Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson took to the skies today to provide support for Issue 1, a statewide sales-tax measure to ensure that highways stay safe and everything keeps moving on the ground.
The governor, who was joined by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, conducted fly-in events in Jonesboro, Harrison, Rogers, El Dorado and North Little Rock. Hutchinson and Rutledge have been consistent in support for the continuation of the half-cent sales tax that was first approved by statewide voters in 2012.
“When families and businesses are looking to expand and move here to the Natural State, do they want the worst roads and bridges?” Rutledge asked the 100 people who attended the Rogers event at the Walmart AMP. “No. They want the best roads and bridges. So, a vote for Issue 1 is a vote for the best.”
Benton County Judge Barry Moehring and Washington County Judge Joseph Wood told attendees how important the sales-tax revenue is to the counties. Moehring said he’s been able to take on and complete major bridge projects, and he’ll be able to do more if the measure is approved by statewide voters on Nov. 3.
Wood said voters need to support Issue 1.
“We’ve done a tremendous job here in Northwest Arkansas because of the half-cent sales tax with that growth that you’ve seen here,” Wood said.
Benton and Washington counties and the cities in the two counties will lose more than $11.5 million annually if the sales tax isn’t approved. The city of Fayetteville would take one of the biggest hits at $1.7 million; Rogers would lose $1.3 million.
Issue 1’s passage in 2012 brought good news to Northwest Arkansas, seeing the state complete or make major progress on some of the region’s biggest, long-talked-about highways.
The funding allowed for Interstate 49 to be widened to six lanes from Bentonville to Fayetteville.
It allowed for the Arkansas Department of Transportation to build the first section of the U.S. 412 Bypass of Springdale, a four-mile, divided highway that’s eased the trip to Northwest Arkansas National Airport.
The tax also made it possible for Arkansas to complete its portion of the Bella Vista Bypass, and that work was important in Missouri being able to obtain a federal grant to pay for its share of the roadway. The whole stretch, which is about 19 miles long, should be open to motorists in 2022.
Passage of Issue 1 on Nov. 3 will create 3,600 jobs statewide every year, and it will allow ArDOT to make new advances on big-ticket projects in Northwest Arkansas. Widening Arkansas 112 will be a priority as will finishing new sections of the U.S. 412 Bypass. The state also will finish up that roadway to the national airport, eliminating the harrowing drive on two-lane, curvy roads to XNA.
The Vote for Roads, Vote for Issue 1 Campaign maintains a website with additional information about why Issue 1 is important to the state and its economy.
Many of the state’s leading organizations support Issue 1, including the Northwest Arkansas Council. Other support comes from The Poultry Federation, the Arkansas Trucking Association, the Association of Arkansas Counties, the Arkansas Municipal League and the Arkansas Farm Bureau.
Pictured at the top: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson stopped at the Walmart AMP in Rogers to emphasize why Issue 1 is important to the state’s future. The sales-tax measure has provided support to the Arkansas Department of Transportation as well as the state’s counties and cities.