by Max Brantley
Roby Brock has more details from House Speaker Robert Moore on his aim to pass tax increases to pay for road construction.
He's mentioned a change in the gas severance tax, though this could run into difficulty if rules require a three-fourths vote. Removing some exemptions in the tax for certain wells might be possible on a simple majority.
There's talk, too, of a five-cent increase in the tax on diesel, but truckers say they'll go along with this only if given a sales tax exemption on equipment.
Note that, as usual, discussions are always driven by what the truck lobby will or won't pay. But the truck lobby brings up another difficult point for Moore, who envisions a four-lane system to connect each corner of Arkansas to Central Arkansas. The sad truth is that this is a waste of money. Why build four-lanes to vast, empty stretches of the Delta, for example? People don't follow highway construction, much as our legislators might think otherwise. Drive those magnificent Mississippi miles through the piney woods sometime to see what I mean. The truckers say highway construction should follow the traffic, particularly on the major interstate routes that the trucks pound to rubble. Henry Gray and the ton-mile tax. Those were the days. Focusing on specific corridors, however, reduces the ability of spreading a little money around to everyone.