The multi-dimensional coalition opposing a state sales tax increase permanently imbedded in the state Constitution to give to the unaccountable Arkansas Department of Transportation continues to add members.
They are Audubon Arkansas, the state office of the National Audubon Society; Audubon Society of Central Arkansas, a local Audubon chapter; and Arkansas Audubon Society, an independent, statewide advocate for conservation.
As related by the No Permanent Tax Vote NO on Issue 1 group:
Dr. Dan Scheiman, Bird Conservation Director of Audubon Arkansas said, “continuing down the same path of simply building more roads ignores the contributions of tailpipe emissions to climate change, which is the number one threat to our beloved birds. Audubon wants to see ArDOT invest in greener transportation choices, such as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, intercity bus service, and electric vehicle charging stations along highways.”
Cindy Franklin, president of Audubon Society of Central Arkansas, related how in 1991 her chapter prevented Rebsamen Park Road from becoming a commuter thoroughfare. The result, “today we have the Big Dam Bridge and Arkansas River Trail, a mecca for birders, runners, and cyclists. Arkansans need a smarter road program that reduces development pressure and prevents environmentally damaging sprawl.”
Maureen McClung, Conservation Chair for Arkansas Audubon Society, adds “since the current 0.5% tax isn’t set to expire until 2023, we have an opportunity to bring together stakeholders to plan multimodal transportation initiatives in Arkansas. If ArDOT commits to greener transportation options, then a tax like this should be considered for continuation. Arkansans have a responsibility to do our part in addressing climate change and air quality concerns through supporting alternative modes of transport.”
Law Professor Joshua Silverstein, the Vice-Chair of the No Permanent Tax. Vote NO on Issue 1 committee and a plaintiff in the I-30 widening lawsuit, welcomed these environmental organizations to the Vote NO campaign. “Since 2016 the Arkansas Legislature has raised taxes and reallocated general fund revenue to ArDOT totaling $180 million a year,” Silverstein said. “We need a specific and transparent program for how this money will be used over the next ten years before we consider voting to give them more tax dollars. If ArDOT produces a more equitable plan with transportation choices then Arkansans can consider it before the temporary sales tax expires in June of 2023.”