Survey: Voters Favor Sales Tax for Highways

Almost two-thirds of likely voters in Arkansas are supportive of continuing a half-cent sales tax to pay for highway projects, a statewide telephone survey suggests.

The Arkansas Good Roads Foundation on Wednesday shared the results of its survey with the Arkansas State Highway Commission.

The 800 likely voters who participated in the 47-question survey were asked if be supportive of permanently dedicating the temporary half-cent sales tax to highway improvement.”  The voters (62 percent) indicated they’d support the continuation of the sales tax.

The survey showed a majority of people who consider themselves Democrats (68 percent), Republicans (62 percent) and independents (55 percent) are support of the half-cent tax continuing.

Arkansas voters first approved the half-cent sales tax for highways in November 2012, allowing the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department to kickoff a massive highway improvement program.

Major Northwest Arkansas projects that are occurring because the sales tax was approved include widening Interstate 49 to six lanes in key areas, constructing the first section of the U.S. 412 bypass of Springdale and building sections of the U.S. 71 bypass of Bella Vista.

The non-profit foundation was asked by Gov. Asa Hutchinson last summer to determine how Arkansans felt about addressing the state’s highways. That process started with more than 20 stakeholder meetings with the foundation’s staff. The foundation set out to see if “consensus could be built among stakeholders, lawmakers and the voting public for a long-term highway funding plan,” said Craig Douglass, the foundation’s executive director.

The foundation later organized an online survey on highway funding options and then had the telephone survey conducted on Dec. 12-13.

The results of the telephone survey provided helpful insight:

  • 90 percent of respondents agreed that Arkansas highways and roads “are in need of repair.”
  • 56 percent said they are “unhappy” with the quality of roads “where they live.”
  • 86 percent disagreed that roads are “fine just the way they are.”
  • 62 percent said they’d oppose an increase in the current state fuel tax.
  • 58.5 percent said they’d oppose indexing the state’s motor fuel tax.