TranspoAdvocate NewsState & Local Funding News
TIAC staff tracks the latest state and local transportation funding news and provides regular updates on TranspoAdvocates News. To contribute to these efforts, contact Carolyn Kramer.
Minnesota Governor-elect Tim Walz (D) has indicated support for a gas tax increase, a view echoed by the new Transportation Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Kelliher has stated that she considers a gas tax more regressive than an income tax, but believes a gas tax is currently the most equitable way for Minnesotans to pay their fair share. Read more.
In Ohio, sharp funding reductions for transportation improvements have spurred business, local government, and transportation industry officials to form the Fix Our Roads Ohio coalition. This growing movement is advocating for transportation funding solutions, possibly through a gasoline tax increase, and aims to educate citizens and policymakers on Ohio’s infrastructure needs. Read more.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) proposed investing $150 billion in essential infrastructure improvements, $66 billion of which would be dedicated to mass transit, railroads, highways, bridges, and tunnels. Cuomo and legislators are trying to compose a five-year state budget by March 31. Read more.
To fulfill campaign promises of road repairs and improvements, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) must maneuver within a flat $10.7 billion general fund or raise new revenue. Transportation investment legislation approved in 2015 is still in the process of being phased in. Read more.
Finding transportation funding solutions is challenging Missouri legislators after voters rejected the proposed gas tax increase on the November 2018 ballot. Read more.
Kentucky legislators are considering a gas tax increase in anticipation of insufficient funding for backlogged and projected transportation projects. Read more.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has called for an increase in the state gas tax to fund infrastructure improvements, however, the details remain murky. Read more.
In response to a $317,000 reduction in the 2018 Iowa Road Use Tax Fund, state officials have recommended that the Iowa Legislature increase fees or charge taxes to electric vehicles owners. Officials say this compensation should be implemented early to prevent tax revenue from falling behind. Read more.
Montana’s 2017 Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act (BRSA) has allowed the state’s department of transportation to match federal highway funds. Without the BRSA increase, Montana would have lost federal funding and local governments could not have commenced their much-needed resurfacing projects. Read more.
South Dakota officials worry that the current U.S. government shutdown could impact upcoming road and bridge projects. While the U.S. Department of Transportation remains in operation, other federal departments that are closed— such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Forest Service— are required for approval on certain road projects. No projects have currently been delayed, but the likelihood increases each day these agencies are closed. Read more.
Funding for improvements along the I-81 corridor will be generated by six tolls with limited rates and fixed-fee-annual-passes for automobiles and small trucks. However, Virginia State Sen. John Edwards (D-21) has proposed raising revenue through the statewide wholesale gas tax as opposed to tolls. Read more.
California’s 2017 Road Repair and Accountability Act (SB 1) is providing a significant portion of funding to the State Highway Operations and Protection Program. In adherence to SB 1’s performance requirements, the California Transportation Commission will focus on improving and repairing pavement, bridges, culverts, and intelligent transportation systems. Read more.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) has proposed a $351 million bond to repair or replace 250 bridges across the state that would be funded through budget savings. This alternate funding route comes after voters defeated a proposed 10-cents-a-gallon increase in the gas tax to pay for road and bridge repairs. The plan assumes healthy revenue growth to pay for the increase in government spending, however, Parson has also announced multiple spending reductions to free up revenue. Read more.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and several state lawmakers intend to introduce legislation that would implement tolls along Interstate Highway 81 (I-81) to generate an estimated $2.2 billion in new revenue. Northam is supportive of tolling, predicting the benefits would outweigh the costs, but has drawn criticism from organizations such as the Virginia Trucking Association and Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates. An ARTBA study released in November 2018 concluded that an investment of $2 billion in highway improvements on Virginia’s I-81 would generate over $4.3 billion in business output, wages and tax revenue along the region’s corridor, supporting over 15,240 local jobs across all sectors of the economy. Read more>>
In Alabama, persistent flooding has washed out part of a Walker County road, and limited funding has prevented county officials from scheduling long-term repairs. This has delayed the arrival of necessary medications for several elderly residents, diverted drivers 15 miles out of their normal route, and could cause issues with school buses, garbage, and mail delivery in the future if the issue isn’t addressed. Read more>>
Indiana’s rural and local roads are receiving about 40 percent more funding due to a recent gas tax increase, vehicle registration fees, and other measures approved by Indiana’s General Assembly in 2017. Read more>>
Missouri county officials continue to push back on state efforts to transfer maintenance of roads to the counties. A 2017 transportation task force studying the issue concluded that counties lacked the expertise and resources road maintenance requires. Read more>>
In Washington state, 2,000 drivers are testing a mileage tax pilot project that ends Jan. 31. Proponents believe “road usage charges” could be more stable and equitable as opposed to fuel taxes. Read more>>
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Dec. 3 indicated support for a state gas tax increase. In November Sen. Pro Tem Del Marsh (R- District 12) stated the increase would be considered during the 2019 legislative session. Read More>>
Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) on Jan. 2 stated he aims to resolve roadblocks that have prevented the state from increasing transportation revenue in the past. The budget process could be overseen by Craig Thompson, Evers’s nomination to lead the state department of transportation, but Thompson has received GOP criticism. Read More>>
A “lockbox” bill signed in New York on Dec. 28 aims to prevent the diversion of transit funds to other parts of the state budget. The bipartisan bill received crucial support from a panel of representatives studying the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s finances. Read More>>
To repair the state’s dilapidated roads and bridges, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials are pursing measures to raise the state gas tax. Read More>>
In the southeast…
- Alabama Sen. Pro Tem Del Marsh (R- District 12) Nov. 28 stated that the legislature would likely consider increasing the state gas tax during the 2019 legislative session. The Association of County Commissions of Alabama reported July 20 that a new gas tax proposal is in development for the 2019 legislative session.
- Kentucky has a backlog of more than $1 billion in road paving projects, plus at least 1,000 bridges that need to be repaired or replaced, but the fund the state uses to pay for those projects has not increased since 2014. State lawmakers on Apr. 14, 2018, warned that the state will need to provide new transportation revenue in the next two years to preserve federal funding. Gov. Matt Bevin (R) Dec. 11 called on lawmakers to find a solution for the state’s transportation funding shortfall in the 2019 legislative cycle, including raising the state gas tax and fees on fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Arkansas state Sen. Breanne Davis (R-Russellville) requested on Sept. 20 that incoming Senate President Jim Hendren (R- Gravette) assist stakeholders and lawmakers with creating a transportation funding proposal ready for introduction when the legislature convenes in January.
Try again in 2019!
- While voters rejected a state gas tax increase on Nov. 6, Missouri is still facing a transportation fund shortfall of over $800 million annually. In light of this need, several lawmakers have said transportation funding will be a top priority in the 2019 legislative session. Suggestions have included public-private partnerships, tolls, and a smaller gas tax hike that would not need voter approval to be enacted.
- After the defeat of two voter referendum measures on Nov. 6, Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis (D) encouraged lawmakers and citizens to come up with new ideas to generate transportation revenue. Democratic leaders have indicated their intent to consider transportation funding options in the 2019 session. Legislation approved earlier in 2018 will place a $2.3 billion bond measure on the November 2019 ballot, unless lawmakers choose to remove it in favor of another transportation revenue source.
Leadership changes open up transportation investment possibilities?
- Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz (DFL) has made a transportation funding increase, including raising the state gas tax, part of the platform for his administration. Walz stated in November that he intends to include his transportation funding plan in his first budget proposal.
- Several Illinois local leaders, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, on Dec. 11 suggested a state gas tax increase of 20 to 30 cents-per-gallon to make needed investments in the state’s transportation infrastructure. It is likely that a transportation funding proposal would include instituting a new electric vehicle fee.
- Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) has stated “everything is on the table” for new revenue sources to close the state’s transportation funding shortfall. During his campaign Gov.-elect Evers was critical of current Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) failure to address the state’s transportation needs.
A Kansas legislatively-appointed task force Nov. 28 reached consensus on 280 new transportation projects to recommend for inclusion in the next multiyear transportation plan, as well as 21 projects that were not completed in the previous plan. The projects would be worth an estimated $18 billion. The task force will consider funding options at its final meeting on Nov. 29. One option it is likely to recommend is restoring revenue to a fund designated for cities and counties. Current law requires the state to transfer $130 million annually into that fund, but recent budget shortfalls have diverted the revenue to other purposes. The task force will make its final recommendation on current and future transportation system needs and the structure of the highway fund to the legislature on or before Jan. 31, 2019.
Connecticut Gov.-elect Ned Lamont (D) campaigned on a proposal for limited tolling as a way to increase revenue for the state’s transportation needs. A panel of advisors on transportation recommended Dec. 19 that the incoming governor expand his plan to include passenger vehicles. Tolling all vehicles could raise an estimated $1 billion annually. Voters overwhelmingly approved a lockbox on the state’s transportation fund in the Nov. 6 general election.
And one runner up…
- Louisiana’s 2019 legislative session is a short one, convening in April and adjourning in June, leaving little time to pass sizable measures. However, the state’s growing $13.1 billion backlog of transportation maintenance is putting pressure on lawmakers to address funding in the next few years. Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson warned in a radio interview Sept. 3 that the state is in jeopardy of losing federal transportation funds because it does not have the revenue to meet its match requirement. Campaigns both for and against a state gas tax increase have already begun.