TranspoAdvocate News

State & 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.


July 20: State Transportation Funding News Roundup

July 20: State Transportation Funding News Roundup

Updated resource! The “2013 – 2017 State Motor Fuel Tax Increases” Roundup provides a summary of all state legislation to increase taxes on motor fuel for transportation investment since 2013. The report provides an overview of the 23 states that voted to increase motor fuel taxes, as well as a description of the five states that adjusted their variable-rate state gas tax formulas to preserve or increase revenue for roads, bridges, transit, and more. Read the report.

State senators in Wisconsin introduced a new proposal for a state budget on July 18, a tactic intended to get discussions back on track after a month-long stalemate. The plan contains measures from Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) original proposal and includes extensive borrowing for road funding, a policy the Assembly has repeatedly rejected in favor of raising taxes or fees. Read More>>

Wisconsin is also contending with a state department of transportation audit released in January, which revealed that highway project costs have been consistently underestimated. Nineteen recent projects cost the state $1.5 billion, about double their estimated cost.  Proposals to correct the issue include altering contractor policies, eliminating wage laws, and prohibiting overspending. Read More>>

North Carolina’s State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) was updated on June 28 to include 144 additional projects and accelerate 350 existing projects. New revenue projections allowed officials to increase spending by $2.5 billion. Read More>>

A recent budget package approved on July 6 in Illinois included an elimination of ethanol wholesalers’ tax credits. This change will likely increase per-gallon costs by 3 to 5 cents as distributers pass the cost onto consumers. These additional dollars will be deposited as a sales tax in the state’s general fund. Read More>>

House member Jim Hanson (R-Frankford) of Missouri stated on July 9 that transportation will be a priority for the upcoming legislative session. He believes a gas tax increase will be necessary, but any tax raising more than $80 million would require voter approval. Formal recommendations on this and other policies will come from a newly formed state “transportation task force” in January 2018. Read More>>

Indiana’s Next Level Roads project was kicked off by Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) and Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness last week. The plan includes about $4.7 billion in project investments over the next five years, and an additional $342 million annually until 2024. Read More>>

Alabama Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) predicts that the state will likely wait two years until making a serious attempt to increase the state gas tax. Read More>>

Katherine Jones, ARTBA Economics Intern, contributed to this report.

July 13: State Lawmakers Detail Transportation Funding Strategies at ARTBA Workshop

July 13: State Lawmakers Detail Transportation Funding Strategies at ARTBA Workshop

From left to right: Louisiana state Rep. Kenneth Havard, Montana state Rep. Frank Garner, Tennessee Senate Speaker Pro Tem Jim Tracy, and  Oregon state Rep. Brad Witt.

Photo courtesy of Leslie E. Kossoff.

By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

Four state lawmakers discussed legislative strategies and political challenges for funding roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure during the 4th National Workshop for State & Local Transportation Advocates, hosted July 13 in the Nation’s Capital by ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center.

The panel included three Republicans: Tennessee Senate Speaker Pro Tem Jim Tracy, Louisiana state Rep. Kenneth Havard, and Montana state Rep. Frank Garner, and Oregon state Rep. Brad Witt, a Democrat. All four are members of their respective state’s transportation or finance committees.

A few themes emerged from the panel discussion moderated by Rich Juliano, managing director of ARTBA’s P3 Division.

Building credibility and trust is important. So is educating the public.

“Make sure the money goes where you say it’s going,” Havard said. Louisiana faced strong skepticism because two projects promised during a 1989 gas tax increase, the state’s last, had not been completed.

“Citizens really don’t trust government,” lamented Tennessee’s Tracy.

The challenge is compounded at times by the public’s limited knowledge about how transportation construction is funded, and why it’s important, Tracy said. Anti-tax, outside groups also muddy the debate with misinformation.

“You have to hit them head on. They don’t have any solutions,” Tracy said. “You just have to be courageous.”

Witt said Oregon’s DOT conducted 15 town hall meetings to educate taxpayers.

Building strong statewide coalitions is also critical.

“You get a lot of the problems fixed in advance with coalitions,” said Montana’s Garner. “As much of that work as you can get done before you walk in the [statehouse] door makes the process a lot more efficient.”

Coalitions should be as broad-based as possible, he said, including non-traditional partners.

Witt added that it’s also important to neutralize the opposition.

Finally, Tracy suggested a strategy that happens too infrequently in government: finding support across the political aisle.

July 13: Transportation Investment Advocate Workshop Draws Record Attendance

July 13: Transportation Investment Advocate Workshop Draws Record Attendance

From left to right: Anthony Attanasio, UTCA NJ; Michael Quigley, California Alliance for Jobs; Dennis Faulkenberg, Appian (Indiana); and Jordan Marsh, South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads.

Photo courtesy of Leslie E. Kossoff.

By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

Participation hit an all-time high at the 4th Annual National Workshop for State & Local Transportation Advocates as transportation construction industry professionals, chamber of commerce executives, officials from public agencies and better roads groups and state legislators came together July 13 in the Nation’s Capital to share intelligence and best practices for building successful campaigns to boost infrastructure investment. It was hosted by ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (TIAC).

ARTBA President Pete Ruane kicked off the event, highlighting the important role that the federal government plays in supporting transportation investment to the states.

“Be mindful that we have an awfully long way to go at the federal level,” Ruane said. “We still need your help with your members of Congress to make sure there is a permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund.”

The Highway Trust Fund faces an average annual $19 billion shortfall just to maintain current highway and transit funding levels once the FAST Act expires in 2020.  ARTBA continues pushing Congress to address the trust fund as part of any tax reform or infrastructure package that emerges.

One panel session featured four speakers highlighting how they were able to increase funding in their states:

  • Anthony Attanasio, executive director of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey, said the successful campaigns have diverse coalitions in addition to offering a menu of funding options.
  • Michael Quigley, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, emphasized the robust digital and social media campaigns, as well as targeted Spanish-language outreach.
  • Dennis Faulkenberg, president of Appian, an Indiana-based advocacy group, said the campaign took a “Not if, but how”  approach that emphasized the state’s needs were too large to be solved by one source.
  • Jordon Marsh, vice president of South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads, said that advocates need to have good inside (politicians) and outside (press and public) for their campaign. He got a good chuckle as he introduced his campaign’s Twitter hashtag: #FIXTHEDAMNROADS.

ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black provided a review of recent funding trends, pending legislation and recent ballot initiatives. She noted 23 states have passed gas tax increases or other transportation-related revenues since 2013.

Attendance at the workshop has increased 75 percent since it was launched in 2014. Attendees hailed from 32 states this year. Visit TIAC’s website to learn more:

July 10: Oregon Lawmakers Approve $5.3 Billion Transportation Funding Bill

July 10: Oregon Lawmakers Approve $5.3 Billion Transportation Funding Bill

Oregon legislators approved a bill on July 6 that will provide an estimated $5.3 billion in new transportation infrastructure revenue over the next 10 years through a combination of motor fuel tax and transportation-related fee increases.

The legislation will:

  • Gradually increase the state gas tax by 10 cents-per-gallon, beginning with 4 cents in 2018 and increasing 2 cents every other year through 2024;
  • Raise vehicle registration fees to $56;
  • Institute a new fee, beginning in 2020, that is charged based on a vehicle’s gas mileage. The rates begin at $18 for vehicles with a gas mileage rating of 0-19 miles-per-gallon (MPG); $23 for those with a rating of 20-39 MPG; and $33 for those with a rating of 40 MPG or greater (excluding electric vehicles);
  • Create a new $110 fee for electric vehicles;
  • Impose a new vehicle excise tax of 0.5 percent of the vehicle’s retail sales price;
  • Institute a bicycle tax of $15 for any new adult bicycle purchased for $200 or more, used partially to provide rebates for electric vehicles; and
  • Create a new 0.1 percent state payroll tax that will fund mass transit.

Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced the compromise agreement on June 28, after months of negotiations and a previous attempt to increase transportation funding in 2015. The House approved the measure with a vote of 39-20 on July 5 (three votes more than the minimum required to pass), followed by the Senate with a vote of 22-7 on July 6 (four votes more than the minimum required to pass). The bill received bipartisan support and was endorsed by environmental groups, business organizations, and local governments.

An Oregon Department of Transportation report released in 2014 concluded that an additional $405 million per year was needed in order to prevent deterioration of the state’s transportation infrastructure. Several factors contributed to this growing transportation funding gap, including payments to debt service, rising construction costs, federal funding uncertainty, reduced state highway fund revenue projects, and aging infrastructure.

The legislature adjourned for the year shortly after approving the plan. The bill now goes before Gov. Brown, who is expected to sign it into law.

Plan for Transportation Investments from HB 2017

July 6: State Transportation Funding News Roundup

July 6: State Transportation Funding News Roundup

Oregon is moving forward with a multibillion-dollar transportation spending package. The legislation includes a tax and fee increase, which will raise $5.3 billion for roads and bridges over the next 10 years. The package was approved by the state house 39-20 on July 5, and is expected to pass in the Senate in the coming week. Read More>>

A $4.1 billion budget has passed in Delaware, and was signed into law by Gov. John Carney (D) on July 3. The capital budget includes more than $317 million towards transportation projects. Read More>>

Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover (R- District 83) has appointed six Republicans and three Democrats to a bipartisan transportation committee. The Working Group on Kentucky’s Transportation Infrastructure is tasked with investigating solutions to a decrease in road funding. Lower gas tax revenues have contributed to a transportation revenue decline of $78 million since 2014, with another $25 million drop expected to occur this year. Read More>>

Conflict over transportation funding has led Wisconsin lawmakers to miss the July 1 deadline for a state budget. Assembly members had supported increasing taxes and fees, while senate republicans instead advocated for increased borrowing. The state senate and assembly will meet again next week to discuss short term solutions. Read More>>

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) sent a memo on July 5 imploring lobbying groups, companies, and industry organizations to propose solutions to the $1 billion deficit facing road improvements. The continued stalemate over funding sources will lead to a halt in infrastructure construction unless an agreement is reached. Read More>>

Road work in Illinois has come to a complete halt while the state’s budget stalemate drags on. All projects funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation, along with many of the state’s other services, are stalled until an agreement can be reached. This is Illinois’ third consecutive fiscal year begun without a budget. Read More>>> 

Katherine Jones, ARTBA Economics Intern, contributed to this report.