Arkansas Gov. Ava Hutchinson (R) May 16 formally requested lawmakers to enter a special session beginning May 19 to increase state transportation funding.
Arkansas Department of Transportation Director Scott Bennett told Arkansas Highway Commission members at a Dec. 2 meeting that without additional funding the state will not have enough transportation revenue to match the $250 million increase in federal funds allocated by the FAST Act for highway improvements. With 80 percent of state highway projects funded with federal revenue and 20 percent required by the state, Arkansas would need approximately $50 million more per year in order to fully take advantage of the new funds. Any unmatched funds would be returned to the federal government.
While Gov. Hutchinson (R) on May 5 reiterated his plan to push for a transportation funding increase without raising state motor fuel taxes, several Republican legislators revealed their intent to introduce a 13 cents-per-gallon motor fuel tax increase that would be gradually phased in over four years in order to generate over $100 million per year. The additional tax would sunset in the year after the last increase.