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Arkansas Legislators Refer Sales Tax to Voters for 2020 Ballot

by Kristin Higgins - March 8, 2019

Arkansas voters will see a proposed sales tax on their November 2020 ballot after senators Thursday gave final approval for putting HJR1018, a proposed constitutional amendment, on the ballot for voters to decide.

The 2020 measure, if passed, would make permanent a half-percent sales tax voters approved in 2012 for highway construction projects.

Amendment 91 of 2012 created a temporary sales tax to pay off $1.3 billion in bonds issued for highway construction. Voters at the time were told the tax would expire after the bonds were paid off, an estimated 10 years later. (See our 2012 fact sheet on that ballot issue).

Voters approved the Amendment 91 by a vote of 58% to 42%.

The current proposal would create a permanent funding source for highway improvement projects. The constitutional amendment is part of the governor's larger plan to generate $300 million more a year for road work. 

Like Amendment 91, HJR1018 would also split the proceeds of the sales tax with counties and cities for local improvement projects. 

You can read the full text of the proposed amendment here:

The proposed amendment faced some opposition in the House and Senate, just as the 2012 measure did when it was voted on by the legislature. The Senate referred the 2020 measure to voters by a a vote of 25-7. The House voted 67-30 in favor of sending HJR1018 to voters.

In Arkansas, legislators have the ability to refer 3 constitutional amendments to voters. HJR1018 is the first proposal to go through the entire process to be added to the ballot.

More than 40 proposals were filed for consideration. In a recent interview, Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren said it looked like they may also refer amendments dealing with legislative term limits and changing the ballot initiative process.