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November 7, 2012 3:00 PM, EST

Arkansas Voters Approve Half-Cent Tax for Highway Improvements

Arkansas voters approved a measure to add a half-cent to the state’s 6-cent sales tax to pay for the widening of a dozen state highways and for major improvements on several others.

Passage of the road-tax measure — marking the first time that Arkansas will spend sales tax money on highway infrastructure — was a welcome surprise, said Lane Kidd, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

“On the same day that the electorate voted Republicans into the majorities of both the state senate and the state house, they also approved a tax increase,” Kidd said.

“It’ll be a tremendous boost to the highway department’s budget,” he added. “That department will have more cash than it’s ever had.”

The half-cent tax will last 10 years and 30% of the revenue raised will go to cities and counties to spend on their roads.

About 58% of voters approved the measure, the (Fort Smith, Ark.) City Wire reported on its website. Cities and counties will each receive 15% of revenue under the program, estimated to be about $670 million, the paper said.

At the state level, the new revenue will allow Arkansas to sell $1.3 billion worth of bonds in order to launch the highway widening projects.