10/1/2012 at 12:00 a.m.
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation has endorsed Issue #1, the highway bond initiative which will be voted on by Arkansans in the upcoming election.
Issue #1 would use a temporary half-cent sales tax to finance a $1.3 billion bond issue for the construction of four-lane highways throughout the state. Additionally, it would provide more than $700 million to counties and municipalities for county roadwork and city street improvements at their discretion.
Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach said in endorsing Issue #1 that the organization’s board of directors referred to its membership-defined policy, which is supportive of a road program that includes a combination of bonds and sales taxes.
Issue #1 was placed on the ballot by the 2011 General Assembly, in a bipartisan vote that enables Arkansas voters to determine if the funding proposal should be enacted. The temporary half-cent sales tax is for 10 years only. When the bonds are repaid the temporary tax is automatically abolished.
“Good, safe roads are important for the citizens of this state,” said Veach a cotton farmer from Manila (Mississippi County). “From agriculture’s standpoint, our products can’t get to market without good roads. It’s as simple as that.
“Like everyone, we are cautious of using sales tax revenue to fund a building program. But as Arkansas’ largest industry, agriculture will benefit from any infrastructure improvements.”
According to the Move Arkansas Forward coalition, the temporary sales tax will be shared by consumers and road users statewide, and will not apply to groceries, medicine, gasoline or diesel. The temporary tax has an automatic sunset once the bonds have been paid off. Additionally, this money can only be spent on roads, and can’t be re-designated for other uses, the group said.
Other groups that have announced support for Issue #1 include the Arkansas State Chamber, Arkansas Municipal League, Association of Arkansas Counties, Arkansas County Judges Association, Arkansas County Clerks Association, Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission, the Northwest Arkansas Business Council and the Arkansas Good Roads/Transportation Council.
According to the coalition, 40,000 jobs statewide will be supported by the activity that surrounds the expanded highway program.
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy
organization of more than 200,000 families throughout the state working
to improve farm and rural life.
For more information contact:
Box 31, Little Rock 72203
Box 31, Little Rock 72203