LITTLE ROCK — A proposal to refer to the ballot a plan for boosting highway funding through a fuel-tax increase faltered Tuesday in the House.
House Bill 1726 by Rep. Dan Douglas, R-Bentonville, received 38 votes in support and 35 against, falling short of the 51 votes needed for passage.
The bill would refer to the November 2018 ballot a proposal to authorize a 20-year bond issue to raise $200 million a year for highway repairs and maintenance. Douglas did not seek a vote on HB 1727, a companion bill to impose a 6.5 percent tax on the wholesale price of gasoline and diesel to pay for the bonds.
Douglas told House members the increased fuel efficiency of vehicles is diminishing revenue from existing fuel taxes, which account for 80 percent of the state’s highway funding.
Several legislators spoke against the proposal, including Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, who said, “I’m here because I promised not to raise taxes.”
Douglas responded, “We’re here to make informed decisions. We’re here to solve problems, not just run for re-election.”