The bill that originally passed the House would have raised both diesel and gas taxes by 3 cents, phased in over the next several years. The Senate, however, decided that trucks weren’t paying their fair share, and upped the diesel tax to 4 cents, to be implemented all at once.
Trucking interests hope to get the bill sent back to the Senate, where they intend to try to force a House-Senate conference and a possible compromise to phase in the 4-cent diesel tax increase instead of having it imposed immediately.
The fuel tax increases are part of a highway funding package that also includes Gov. Mike Huckabee’s $575 million bond issue. The bond bill has passed both houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature for referral to a special election.
The good news is that the fuel tax increase passing makes it look like a weight-distance tax or putting tolls on existing interstates are no longer likely to be considered as ways to raise money to fix Arkansas’ crumbling highway system.