Just two days after the Arkansas House overwhelmingly approved a 3-cent fuel tax increase backed by Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Senate panel endorsed a plan that would tax trucks for each mile traveled – the dreaded weight-distance tax.
Both plans would generate about the same amount of money for highway funding. But the senate version would place the burden on the trucking industry.
“This addresses repairing the roads in a fair way, because we know the cars out there are not tearing them up, it’s the heavy trucks,” said Sen. Cliff Hoofman, sponsor of the truck tax. “One heavy truck causes more damage to your road than 9,600 cars.”
Hoofman’s plan would impose a 3.5-cent per mile tax on trucks weighing more than 73,280 pounds. To offset part of the tax, it would lower the annual registration from $1,350 to $350.
The state’s Economic Development Department says the truck tax would drive businesses to other states, while the Arkansas Motor Carriers Assn. says the truck tax would amount to a 92% tax hike – the equivalent of a 17-cent-per-gallon diesel tax increase. The group has called the tax “onerous, regressive and impossible to collect efficiently.”
Lane Kidd, president of the trucking association, also said the weight-distance tax could be overturned by the courts, as a 1980s version was because it exempted Arkansas-based trucks. Hoofman’s bill includes exemptions for farm trucks, lumber trucks, those hauling livestock or poultry, and trucks owned by cities, counties or the state.
Other states with weight-distance taxes are Kentucky, Idaho, New Mexico, New York and Oregon.