Arkansas Sales Tax Increase Amendment, Issue 1 (2012)

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Issue 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Arkansas Constitution
Referred by:Arkansas State Legislature

The Arkansas Sales Tax Increase Question, also known as Issue 1, was a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the November 6, 2012 statewide ballot in the state of Arkansas, where it was approved.

The measure implemented a half-percent sales tax in the state. The revenue generated from the tax was to be used to pay for a four-lane highway system statewide.[1]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results
Arkansas Issue 1 (2012)
Approveda Yes 592,980 58.21%

Results via: The Arkansas Secretary of State Counties Percent Reported: 90.67% (11/9/2012)

Text of measure

Popular name

An Amendment to Provide Additional Funding for State Highways, County Roads, City Streets, Bridges, and Other Surface Transportation.[2][3]

Ballot title

For a proposed constitutional amendment to levy a temporary sales and use tax of one-half (0.5%) for state highways and bridges, county roads, bridges and other surface transportation, and city streets, bridges and other surface transportation, with the state's portion to secure state of Arkansas general obligation four-lane highway construction and improvement bonds in the total principal amount not to exceed one billion three hundred million dollars ($1,300,000,000) for the purpose of constructing and improving four-lane highways in the state of Arkansas; prescribing the terms and conditions for the issuance of such bonds which will mature and be paid in full in approximately ten (10) years, which payment in full shall terminate the temporary sales and use tax; describing the sources of repayment of the bonds; permanently dedicating a portion of the proceeds derived from the existing motor fuel and distillate fuel taxes to the state aid street fund; and prescribing other matters pertaining thereto[2][3]


The following is information obtained from the supporting side of the measure:

  • Madison Murphy, chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission and leader of the Move Arkansas Forward campaign, stated that the measure needed support and was essential to the state's future: "Arkansans recently took advantage of an opportunity to support more jobs and improve the Arkansas economy through much-needed highway construction — without raising taxes. Last November, more than 80 percent of Arkansas voters supported the Arkansas Highway Commission as it continues to find ways to work around the state’s flawed funding system. That vote approved allowing the Commission to modernize more than 400 miles of Arkansas interstates with the re-issue of Garvee bonds for a new Interstate Rehabilitation Program. The next step in the statewide improvement program is to continue constructing four-lane highways connecting all parts of the state, plus provide new local turnback revenue to every city and county to repair county roads and fix city streets. To do that, we need to pass Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 1 on Nov. 6."[4]


The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the measure:

  • While not specifically giving his opposition to the measure, Carroll County Judge Sam Barr stated that the measure was unlikely to pass. Barr commented: "It has no chance of passing. People are strapped. They can't pay their bills. I don't know how the state is going to improve its roads without it. All of our roads are in need of repair but the money is not there. In my mind, there are two ways: try to find the money or try to get along. I am here for whatever the people want."[5]
  • Teresa Oelke, state director for the Arkansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, stated, "Authorizing even higher taxes so government can spend more money to create jobs is like trying to dig yourself out of a hole by continuing to dig. Arkansas Issue 1’s motto should be ‘dig faster'...Instead of demanding an ever-larger portion of a family’s paycheck and driving up their cost of everyday life with higher taxes, our leaders must look at every other option first. Arkansas families have led by example. Reducing spending in some areas and prioritizing spending overall is something we have done since the beginning of the economic downturn. State government must focus on being efficient, cut wasteful spending and burdensome red tape, and let Arkansas job-creators and small businesses lead our state to better days. Then those essential responsibilities, like roads and bridges, won’t be paid for with continued economic decline."[4]


See also: Polls, 2012 ballot measures
  • A poll was taken on March 26, 2012 asking voters if they would vote for or against the measure if the election was that day. The results of the poll are found below.[6]
Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
Mar. 26, 2012 Talk Business-Hendrix College 41.5% 50.5% 8% 759

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Arkansas Constitution

A majority vote is required in both chambers of the Arkansas State Legislature to refer a measure to the ballot, according to Section 22, Article 19 of the Arkansas Constitution. The Arkansas Legislature can only refer up to three legislative referrals to the ballot each election year.

The measure was introduced to the state legislature during session. Before introducing the measure, House Speaker Robert Moore stated that he would ask lawmakers to consider the proposal.[7]

House of Representatives

The proposed sales tax increase measure was first filed with the Arkansas House of Representatives on February 2, 2011 and read for the first time in the chamber the next day. On March 21, 2011, the measure passed a House committee, after the it was amended four times, and was then sent to the House for full consideration. It was then approved by the chamber with a tally of 62 to 25, sending the measure to the Arkansas State Senate for consideration. You can read which state representative voted for and against the resolution here.


Since the State House approved the amendment, the measure then had to be approved by the Arkansas State Senate in order to be placed on the ballot. After the bill was sent to the Senate on March 24, 2011, it was read for the first time that day.

The Senate then approved the measure one week later on March 31, 2011 with a vote of 22-10, effectively placing it on the ballot. Here is a list of the senate votes. The measure was on the November 2012 ballot.[8][9][10]

See also

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