Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s call for the Good Roads Foundation to devise a long-term state highway funding plan could result in a proposal by the 2017 session of the Arkansas Legislature, according to Craig Douglass, the non-profit's executive director.
He says the advocacy group will be organizing stakeholders in the coming weeks to address funding for the state Highway and Transportation Department.
“What we will be doing in this process is not only focusing on the significant funding needs of the department, but also looking at options that are realistic,” Douglas says.
State highway officials have said they needs an additional $400 million annually for road maintenance and construction. Douglass says a achieving a plan will require the collaboration of a range of leaders and interests.
“[We want to] make sure that we bring together all of the stakeholders, including economic developers, chambers of commerce, each and every member of the Arkansas General Assembly, the [Arkansas Economic Development Commission, as well as road contractors,” he said.
Last year, the foundation recommended a 10 cent motor fuel tax increase to address a shortfall in state highway funding. Governor Hutchinson has said he does not support a tax increase, unless it is approved by citizens in a referendum election.
In May, the legislature devoted $50 million in surplus and general revenue to roads. The highway director has called for an additional $400 million annually.