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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday, May 23, 2016, signs a highway funding bill into law at the state Capitol in Little Rock. - Photo by Brandon Riddle

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson, shortly after Arkansas lawmakers gave final approval Monday to plan to raise nearly $50 million for the state's highways in the coming fiscal year, signed the measure into law.

The Senate on Monday approved by a 21-10 vote Hutchinson's proposal to tap into the state's surplus, investment returns and other funds to pay for the state's road needs.

Arkansas' Republican governor, speaking to reporters before the bill signing, called the use of surplus money an unprecedented act for the state.

"It's a unique solution for a unique challenge that we had in this state," Hutchinson said. "The Legislature, the task force [on highway funding], everyone met that challenge and came out with a result that did not raise taxes."

Lawmakers approved the plan shortly before adjourning a special session that began last week on the proposal.

Hutchinson has said the additional money is needed so the state can receive an additional $200 million in annual federal matching funds.

The proposal had faced criticism from Democrats and some Republicans who have said the approach doesn't address the state's long-term highway needs.

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson addresses reporters during a media availability Monday, May 23, 2016, after Arkansas lawmakers gave final approval of his highway funding plan.

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  • LR1955
    May 23, 2016 at 10:47 a.m.

    Invest $50 million & get $200 million more, glad the naysayers saw the light!

  • Jackabbott
    May 23, 2016 at 3:03 p.m.

    This only a down payment. The highways in Arkansas are probably the worst in the USA. Nearing 3rd world status and conditions.

  • HawgFan
    May 23, 2016 at 3:58 p.m.

    Jack... Not sure which roads you are driving on, but according to the Federal Highway Administration in July of 2015, Arkansas had 39% of our roads were in Poor/Mediocre Condition. There are 37 states that have more roads in Poor/Mediocre condition than we do.

  • GoBigRed
    May 23, 2016 at 4:33 p.m.

    These 3 days had to be spread over two weeks so they could draw more per diem. Your tax dollars (not) at work.

  • tenpoint
    May 23, 2016 at 4:44 p.m.

    the highway people needs to spend money all over the state of Arkansas. little rock ,north west Arkansas and a new bridge across the river . the people needs to voted in those positions that is the answere to that problem.

  • LR1955
    May 23, 2016 at 4:54 p.m.

    Hey tenpoint, your grammar & spelling are buckedup, LOL!

  • cypert
    May 23, 2016 at 8:20 p.m.

    spend three million on special session to raid fifty million from state general fund way to go

    May 23, 2016 at 9:15 p.m.

    Republican neme to never raise any tax under any situation is inane. Period. Fuel tax is way to go. With improving efficiencies of vehices revenues are falling . Road users should foot the bill - not budgetary machinations.

  • Greg_C
    May 25, 2016 at 5 p.m.

    It seems like a lot of money, $50 million but how many miles of poor, pothole laden roads can that actually fix? That covers cost of less than 10 miles worth of repairs and there is over 10,000 miles of highways in Arkansas. Taxes will be raised at some point in the future.