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Arkansas Issue 1 passes, creating permanent half-cent sales tax for road projects

Issue 1 (blank) permanent extension for half-cent sales tax for highway, road projects. (KATV)
Issue 1 (blank) permanent extension for half-cent sales tax for highway, road projects. (KATV)
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Arkansans passed Issue 1, which sets a permanent half-cent sales tax for highway and road projects.

Talk Business & Politics called the vote for Issue 1 with 92 percent of areas reporting Tuesday night. Results reported Wednesday morning were:

For: 644,647 - 55.29 percent

Against: 521,335 - 44.71 percent

The state has an existing half-cent sales tax in place, but the tax expires in 2023. The sales tax is predicted to generate about $290 million annually, with approximately $205 million will go to the Arkansas Department of Transportation and roughly $85 million will go to cities and counties.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said the state would lose jobs if the issue failed.

Opponents of the measure pointed to the fact that it would make the tax a permanent part of the state’s Constitution. Hutchinson said it was the only way the Arkansas legislature could allow the citizens to vote on the amendment. Voters in the future can make changes to it, he added.

Ryan Norris, state director for Americans for Prosperity, said the Department of Transportation should have used its existing budget to prioritize highway maintenance.

A poll by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College Oct. 11-13 found the issue was favored 62 percent to 38 percent.

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