Taldo Laughs Last

Taldo Laughs Last
Philip Taldo (Beth Hall)

Philip Taldo enjoyed a deep chuckle recalling a conversation he had with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson a few years ago.

Taldo, a Springdale real estate developer and a longtime friend of the governor’s, is an Arkansas highway commissioner and was a member of Hutchinson’s Working Group on Highway Funding that was formed to find a way to increase funding for the state’s transportation department. Hutchinson was initially reluctant to raise gasoline and diesel taxes for the funding, but it became clear how critical the funding shortage was.

Taldo said he told Hutchinson that the state needed more than $400 million annually to get a handle on its capital improvements and maintenance program.

“We’re friends and we talked about this a lot,” said Taldo, who first crossed paths with the governor at Springdale High School. “He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘That is a lot of money. I think you all could get by with $200 million.’”

Taldo, laughing while recalling the conversation, said he told the governor that studies showed the monetary need. Taldo said ArDOT, a blue ribbon panel and the state Legislature all did studies that came up with a figure of more than $400 million.

The signing of Act 416 and the passage of a permanent half-cent sales tax will provide ArDOT with a projected $300 million annually.

“We did come up a little bit short of that number but we are grateful,” Taldo said. “We have enough to keep us busy for a while.”