LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Arkansas’ top highway official says that a half-cent sales tax could finance a $1.8 billion bond program to help the state’s roads.

Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department director Dan Flowers told a House panel on Thursday that he believed referring the bond program to voters would help significantly toward paying for unfunded highway needs Arkansas faces.

Flowers told the House Public Transportation Committee that Arkansas has $23 billion in highway needs over the next decade, but only about $4 billion in funding. Officials say the current highway-financing methods of per-gallon taxes and registration fees are no longer enough to make up the gap.

Members of the panel say they hope to come up with ways to increase funding for the roads during this year’s legislative session.