The House this morning voted 67-24 to pass HB 1902 to call an election on a five-cent increase in the diesel tax to raise money to repair U.S. and interstate highways. House Speaker Robert Moore, defending the bill, said: 1) it was permissive — that is, it is not a tax increase but a question for voters; 2)it addresses a problem that is not going to go way, and 3) it was critical to creating good roads that are vital in attracting industry.
Opponents objected to the current allocation of highway dollars around the state; the $750,000 cost of a special election; the failure to consider taking general revenues for the work. Opponents also suggested there's sufficient fat in state spending to provide the money. Rep. Stephen Meeks said the solution was to mine lignite in South Arkansas. With whose capital and in what century, are the first of many questions about the awful idea to tap into just about the dirtiest energy source known.
Speaker Moore said the better course would be for the House itself to pass the tax, but he said it wasn't likely to do it. He criticized those who supported a do-nothing posture. "It's our responsibility; it's our obligation."