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.
June 9: ARTBA’s Unprecedented TIAC Effort Provides State and Local Advocates with Ways to Increase Funding (Americans for Transportation Mobility)
The following article appeared on Americans for Transportation Mobility on June 9, 2017.
In the past decade, the Unites States’ surface-transportation system has been affected by a lack of predictable and sustainable funding – and some might argue political courage as well. President Donald Trump and members of Congress were partly elected on a promise to America: improving the nation’s infrastructure.
But long before Trump made it to The White House and the 115th Congress came into power, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) began shaping America’s dialogue about infrastructure investment and broadening the circle of those who care about transportation investment.
One of its recent breakthroughs is the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (TIAC), which was created in 2014. TIAC is an extension of ARTBA’s “Transportation Makes America Work!”™ program and is supported through outside contributions, sponsorships and ARTBA.
“A number of groups are trying to move the needle on state and local transportation funding and TIAC provides resources that ensure they do not have to start from ground zero,” says Dr. Alison Premo Black, the chief economist for ARTBA who also manages TIAC (transportationinvestment.org).
TIAC represents a sea change. Black points out that what TIAC is also doing is debunking myths through data, analytics and original research.
“For example, there’s a myth out there that state legislators don’t want to increase their state gas tax because they won’t be re-elected or they’ll lose their next election. We’ve actually done the research over the last three years and about 95 percent of legislators who vote for a state gas-tax increase, and stand for re-election, are voted back into office,” explains Black.
She adds: “Another [dispelled] myth is that if you are a Republican, you’re not going to vote for a gas-tax increase. Interestingly, of the eight states that raised their state gas taxes in 2015, seven of those were Republican governors and legislatures. So we know that political party has been absolutely instrumental in raising state and local finances over the last few years for transportation investment.”
There is an exhaustive list of irrefutable statistics and information that proves that America’s infrastructure and transportation network are in desperate need of more than just a reboot. For instance, ARTBA reports there are 55,710 structurally compromised bridges in the United States. That number is based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
A shortfall of federal funding has created a complex situation for local and state governments trying to eke out transportation revenue to ensure monies for projects, from replacing deficient bridges, to upgrading roads. Because of the federal logjam, numerous states have enacted ways of ensuring transportation funding, including raising their state gas taxes and relying on fees.
TIAC is an unprecedented Internet-based educational resource for local and state stakeholders across the nation. It provides webinars, reports, case studies, resources, and news about how region are securing transportation monies. Best practices and lessons learned are presented by those who have used grassroots and local media outreach, lobbying, educational initiatives, partnerships, advertising, earned media, social media and campaigns that highlight critical projects that will receive funding.
TIAC also hosts events, such as the 4th Annual “National Workshop for State & Local Transportation Advocates,” which will be held July 12, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C.
TIAC has proven that shoring up public support, interest and cooperation in the business community, and working with legislators are all necessary.
TIAC’s Progress & Role
The FAST Act, the most recent federal bipartisan legislation funding surface transportation, was passed in 2015. But it was not an easy win or a long-term fix.
“I think there is definitely a connection between what’s been going on, at the federal level, and with the inability of Congress for about a decade to solve the Highway Trust Fund situation. Also, these series of short-term extensions really wreaked havoc on the highway, bridge and transportation construction markets,” according to Black. “Then throw the recession into that mix and you can see why state and local governments have really been struggling with how to fund the growing needs of their transportation systems.”
Several years ago, when TIAC was in its infancy, volunteer leaders went through a strategic planning exercise and found there was a gap on the local and state levels on the advocacy side, explains Black. This meant there was a dearth of information that could help the public, local and state elected officials, and businesses and organizations better grow transportation investment. (ARTBA, like many organizations building awareness about the need for transportation investment, traditionally focused its efforts on the federal level.)
Black, too, speaks frankly about the needs this country faces in ways that resonate outside D.C., and that approach is also evident in the webinars (with regional touchstones and experts) and other information TIAC offers. Black can frame what bridge conditions are like in various parts of America as quickly as Trump can hit the tweet button.
Black says that the second part of the initiative, the “Transportation Investment Advocates Council”™ – which is comprised of better roads groups that are networking and sharing best practices – shows that TIAC’s initiatives are useful and convenient. From looking at efforts in various parts of the country, Black says it is clear advocates are taking different elements from campaigns and successfully adapting them in their areas.
TIAC is helping focus on the local and state funding pieces, but Black also notes that all transportation stakeholders and advocates are keenly aware that this represents about half of all investment, and the other half needs to come from the federal government. “The funding gap really comes back with a vengeance after the FAST Act is over,” she reminds.
ARTBA is a member of the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition.
All New Jersey incumbent state lawmakers who faced reelection during the June 6 Primary Election advanced to the Nov. 7 General Election, reinforcing earlier findings which concluded that the decision to vote for legislation to increase a state gas tax has little impact on re-election rates.
Sixty-two lawmakers who voted for the gas tax increase and 35 who voted against the gas tax increase ran for reelection to their seats and won. This includes all 12 sponsors of the bill. Additionally, in the Assembly, two lawmakers who voted for the gas tax increase and one who voted against the gas tax increase ran for a seat in the Senate within the same district and won their primary. Three lawmakers who voted against a gas tax increase ran for the position of governor; none won their primaries. Nine lawmakers did not cast a vote on the 2016 transportation funding measure and won their primaries.
Of the lawmakers who voted for a gas tax increase, 56 were Democrats and 12 were Republicans. Of these, 53 Democratic lawmakers and nine Republican lawmakers ran to renew their seat in the primary and won.
Of the lawmakers who voted against a gas tax increase, 13 were with the Democratic party and 28 were with the Republican party. Of these, 11 Democratic lawmakers and 24 Republican lawmakers ran to renew their seat in the primary and won.
The results confirm an earlier analysis of 2016 primary elections in the eight states that passed a gas tax increase in 2015, which found that 98 percent of Republican and 98 percent of Democratic lawmakers who approved a gas tax increase and ran for their seat in a primary race moved on to the general election, compared to 97 percent of legislators who had voted “no” on the gas tax increase. Additionally, an examination of more than 2,500 state legislators from 16 states found 91 percent of lawmakers who supported legislation to increase their state gas tax between 2013 and 2015 and ran for re-election won their seat during the next general election.
This was the first time New Jersey lawmakers who voted on the 2016 measure to increase the gas tax faced voters. Lawmakers approved legislation in October 2016 that increased the state gas tax by 23 cents-per-gallon and the diesel tax by 27 cents-per-gallon effective Nov. 1, 2016, in order to generate $2 billion annually in new revenue for transportation infrastructure. Combined with matching federal funds and bonds, the legislation is expected to enable $32 billion in transportation investment over the next eight years. As a compromise to balance the tax increase, the measures also included several tax cuts. New Jersey was the only state to approve a gas tax increase in 2016.
The Arkansas Highway Commission announced on June 7 that it will seek to place a measure on the November 2018 General Election ballot that would raise up to $400 million annually in new revenue for road construction. Commission members will decide in the next few months on what type of initiative (constitutional or initiated act), proposed sources of funding, and target revenue amounts. Read More>>
A Colorado coalition decided against petitioning for a 2017 ballot measure to increase transportation funding, but will consider campaigning for a 2018 measure when a greater number of voters are expected to turn out. Read More>>
The Georgia Supreme Court ruled on June 5 that the diversion of local sales and use taxes on motor fuels— approved by House Bill 170 in 2015 — to non-transportation purposes is permissible because the term “motor fuel taxes” in the state’s constitution applies to taxes paid by fuel distributors, not to the sales and use taxes collected on retail sales at the local level. Read More>>
Oklahoma Department of Transportation Director Mike Patterson on June 5 announced that the legislature’s diversion of $153 million from the agency’s road and bridge construction, maintenance and operations programs to close a general budget shortfall will lead to delays for some construction projects in its eight-year construction plan, but will not suspend any projects. Read More>>
Learn why and how a record number of transportation investment initiatives have passed since 2013 at the 4th Annual “National Workshop for State & Local Transportation Advocates,” being held July 12 at the Hyatt Regency Washington in Washington, D.C.
This year’s Workshop will feature several advocates sharing best practices and lessons learned from transportation funding campaigns throughout the country to help other states build their own campaigns. Workshop attendees will:
- Hear from representatives & advocates from all five states that passed a gas tax increase in 2017, as well as the sole state to pass a gas tax increase in 2016;
- Learn from lawmakers about the best strategies for increasing support in your state’s legislature;
- Get insight into the latest research in transportation funding trends;
- Examine the challenges and advantages of different motor fuel tax structures and alternative transportation funding options, and more.
“There is no other event like this in the country that provides an opportunity for advocates to gather and discuss issues. The National Workshop provides forums to share information on the issues we face and the solutions we develop.” (Juva Barber, executive director of Kentuckians for Better Transportation)
The Workshop, a signature program of the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ (TIAC), is being held in conjunction with ARTBA’s Public-Private Partnerships (P3) in Transportation Conference.
The latest TRIP report released June 1 found that with over half of Mississippi’s roads in poor or mediocre condition, and 12 percent of the state’s bridges struggling with structural deficiencies, poor transportation infrastructure is costing Mississippi drivers a total of $2.9 billion annually. Read More>>
A North Carolina budget amendment could cut $2.5 million in road maintenance funds in order to provide grants to supply student transportation for charter schools that serve low-income students. Read More>>
Rhode Island’s RhodeWorks program, which charges a toll on large commercial trucks and funds state bridge maintenance and repairs, will reach an annual net revenue of $42.3 million. State department of transportation officials estimate this will bring 90 percent of the state’s bridges into “structural sufficiency” by 2024 and create 6,000 new construction jobs. Read More>>
A Texas budget compromise will delay payment to the state highway fund in order to free up revenue for non-transportation related programs. Texas voters had overwhelmingly approved using that revenue for transportation purposes in 2014 and 2015. Read More>>
The California Transportation Commission allocated $328 million in new transportation funding for 88 projects that will alleviate traffic delays, repair aging roads and bridges, and encourage bicycling and walking. Read More>>