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.
As more state legislatures convene for the 2018 legislative session, transportation funding bills are proving to be a popular topic.
The Colorado Senate chose transportation funding as the first bill to introduce this year. Senate Bill 18-001 would divert 10 percent of state sales and use tax net revenue to the state highway fund, with revenue used primarily to pay back transportation bonds. If approved by the legislature, the bill would create a November ballot measure asking voters to approve $3.5 billion in transportation fund bonds.
Florida is joining other states in exploring new fees on electric and hybrid vehicles. Introduced legislation would commission a report that studies possible fees on electric and hybrid motor vehicles, and the effect such fees would have on the state’s transportation fund.
A Nebraska bill would put a floor in place of $2.44 on the component of Nebraska’s variable-rate state gas tax that is calculated based on the average wholesale price of gasoline. (Read ARTBA-TIAC’s ‘Variable-Rate State Gas Tax‘ report for more information on Nebraska’s existing formula.)
Other bills introduced this week include:
- Legislation to expand Alabama’s transportation infrastructure bank with additional revenue to service bond debt;
- Several bills that would increase local funding in certain regions of Virginia; and
- A Maine proposal to transfer 10 percent of the sales tax on “transportation-related items”— such as motor vehicles and products related to the repair and maintenance of motor vehicles— to the state’s Highway Fund.
Follow ARTBA-TIAC on social media (@ARTBA or #ARTBATIAC) or on the blog for updates on state transportation funding legislation throughout 2018.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (R) included a call for increased transportation funding in his Jan. 11 State of the State address. Gov. Hickenlooper pointed to the recent passage of local transportation funding ballot measures in the state, and the successful state transportation funding increase in neighboring Utah, as reasons why Colorado lawmakers need to be ambitious in providing new revenue for the its roads and bridges. The governor also said that voters need to be consulted on the transportation funding solution. Read More>>
A drafting error in Idaho’s Senate Bill 1206 (2017) “surplus-eliminator” legislation will prevent an expected $27.5 million transfer to the state’s transportation department. The bill was intended to transfer a portion of the state’s general fund surplus to the agency for road projects, as well as provide transportation bonds against future federal highway allocations. Gov. Butch Otter (R), who stated his opposition to using general fund revenue for transportation purposes, did not include corrections for the error in his 2018 budget proposal. SB 1206 received enough state legislative support in 2017 to become law without the governor’s signature, which he declined to give. Read More>>
A survey by the Arkansas Department of Transportation found that 73 percent of the nearly 3,000 participating residents are not satisfied with the condition of the state’s roads. Read More>>
Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R- District 12) predicts that lawmakers will work on formulating an infrastructure plan in 2018, with a revenue stream developed in 2019. Read More>>
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Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) announced on Jan. 10 that hundreds of transportation projects worth nearly $4.3 billion will be postponed indefinitely, until new revenue is identified to replenish the state’s Special Transportation Fund (STF). Without additional funding the STF will face a deficit by July 1, 2018, and could reach insolvency by mid-2020. In December Gov. Malloy had warned of upcoming cuts to delay the projected shortfall, which is exacerbated in part by growing debt costs on previous transportation bonds.
In the joint announcement with Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) Commissioner James Redeker, the governor stated his intention to propose a transportation funding plan later in January, prior to the start of the 2018 legislative session. CTDOT estimates a 14 cents-per-gallon gas tax increase will be required to prevent the STF from facing a deficit.
A Sept. 12 report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association found that the state would forego over $65 billion in long-run economic benefits, wages, and output from drivers and businesses, and nearly $21.4 billion in state GDP, if the state fails to invest in transportation infrastructure.
Connecticut voters will consider a ballot measure to impose a transportation fund ‘lockbox’ in the November general election. The measure would amend the state constitution to ensure all revenue deposited in the STF be used solely for transportation purposes, including paying debt service on state obligations incurred for transportation purposes. Revenue sources designated for the STF are authorized by statute to be deposited there.
Quotes From Gov. Malloy’s Jan. 10 statement:
Gov. Dannel Malloy : “If Connecticut does not take the necessary action to allow us to restart these vital projects, not only will it put the state’s infrastructure into a further state of disrepair, it will hurt our economy. If we want to compete in the 21st century economy, we need a transportation system that works for people and businesses, and we need to invest in transit-oriented development to build the communities where people and businesses want to be. I want to be very clear – this is preventable, but it requires immediate action. The legislature must act this year to avoid potentially devastating setbacks to our transportation system.”
CTDOT Commissioner James Redeker : “This isn’t a problem that can be punted until future years. Connecticut needs immediate action. As Governor Malloy noted last month, the solvency of the Special Transportation Fund is in doubt without new revenues. In real terms, that means we need to postpone indefinitely important projects today.”
Representative Tony Guerrera (D- District 29), co-chair of the state legislature Transportation Committee: “The cupboard is bare. Without a dedicated, stable stream of revenue to the Special Transportation Fund, our infrastructure will continue to rot and decay. We sit at the precipice of a transportation tragedy that can be avoided by investing in roads and bridges. We must act immediately in the 2018 legislative session and institute tolls or another revenue stream to avert the oncoming crisis.”
Ohio Department of Transportation director Jerry Wray expressed concern that the state is falling behind on transportation projects, with 90 percent of the agency’s spending going to rehabilitating and maintaining existing roads and bridges and neglecting needed capacity-building projects. Read More>>
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (R) urged the state’s Joint Budget Committee on Jan. 2 to allocate $148.2 million of the expected $256.5 million general fund surplus for transportation projects. The surplus would be available at the beginning of the next fiscal year on July 1. Lawmakers from both parties agree additional transportation revenue is needed, but are unsure how much would be dedicated for that purpose, and how that money would be allocated. Read More>>
Despite changes to West Virginia’s variable-rate gas tax formula, which resulted in a 3.5 cents-per-gallon increase on July 1, the state road fund collected $4 million less than anticipated in earlier revenue projections. However, the road fund collected $9.6 million more cumulatively for 2017 than it did in the prior fiscal year. Motor vehicle registration fees, also increased in the legislation, rose 79 percent, but motor vehicle sales taxes— raised by 1 percent— remained flat in December. Read More>>
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) voiced concern on Dec. 29 over a plan to utilize federal funding for half of the New York/New Jersey Hudson River Gateway Tunnel rail project in a letter to officials. Brian Murray, spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), however, expressed confidence that potential federal infrastructure packages will include the project. Read More>>
New tolling could generate up to $53 billion in transportation revenue over 30 years, according to a report by the Indiana Department of Transportation in conjunction with HDR Inc. The study was commissioned through House Bill 1002 (2017), legislation approved in April to generate an additional $1.2 billion in new transportation funding annually. Read More>>
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation had over 90 projects worth more than $200 million under construction or bid in the northwestern region in 2017. The activity is attributed directly to Act 89, the transportation funding bill passed in 2013. Read More>>
Jan. 5 Update: Mississippi House lawmakers voted 119-1 on Jan. 4 to send House Bill 354 to the Senate for further consideration. The bill would designate 50 percent of general fund revenue growth above 2 percent (capped at $100 million) to road repairs. The House also voted 117-3 to borrow $50 million for dilapidated county and city bridges.
An additional bill to prioritize the maintenance of existing roads over new highway construction also passed, though along much narrower margins with a vote of 71-42. Critics of the bill say it favors areas with existing construction and neglects those that have not yet started projects, and is not meeting the requirements of heavily-congested corridors.
All three bills will now move to the state Senate for review.
It may be only the first week of 2018, but several states are already taking action to increase transportation revenue.
A bill to increase the motor vehicle registration fee imposed by cities and counties was amended and approved by the New Hampshire Senate for interim study on Jan. 3. Revenue generated by the fee is dedicated to transportation purposes. The bill, carried over from 2017 into the second half of the legislative session, had been introduced in December 2016 and approved by the House on March 9.
New Hampshire lawmakers have introduced several other transportation funding bills as well, including bills to create an electric and hybrid vehicle fee and legislation that would establish a road usage registration fee based on the equivalent miles per gallon of the vehicle.
Kentucky lawmakers are also filing legislation early to increase state transportation funding. A bill pre-filed in September would establish new fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, indexed to changes in the average wholesale price of gasoline as the state gas tax is adjusted. A bill filed when the 2018 legislative session began on Jan. 2, will create a task force to explore the possibility of instituting a mileage-based user fee as a transportation funding mechanism within the state.
A New York state senator also introduced legislation to launch a pilot program on the feasibility of a road usage charge. If approved, the pilot program would begin in Jan. 2019. The bill is currently with the state Senate Transportation Committee.
Multiple bills to increase transportation funding were introduced in Mississippi when the legislature convened on Jan. 3. The House Ways and Means Committee recommended the passage of two measures that would borrow $50 million for dilapidated county and city bridges, and utilize a portion of Internet sales taxes for the repair, maintenance and reconstruction of roads and bridges. The House Transportation Committee gave initial approval to a bill that would divert 50 percent of general fund revenue growth above 2 percent (capped at $100 million) to road repairs. The committee also recommended a measure that would prohibit highway construction until new revenue was approved, instead prioritizing maintenance of existing roads.
Follow ARTBA-TIAC for updates on state transportation funding legislation throughout 2018.