LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Former natural gas executive Sheffield Nelson says he may ask Arkansas voters to back a severance tax increase on natural gas if lawmakers don't in next year's session.

Nelson said Monday that he plans to gauge support for the hike among lawmakers. He says increasing the severance tax on natural gas is a better option for funding highway improvements than recommendations recently issued by a highway funding panel.

Nelson, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate, wrote in a column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Sunday that it's time to revisit the severance tax. Gov. Mike Beebe in 2008 signed into law an increase on the natural gas severance tax to pay for state roads.

Nelson had proposed an initiated act that would have raised the tax higher, but withdrew after the increase became law.