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 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.

June 30: State Transportation Funding News Roundup

June 30: State Transportation Funding News Roundup

Arizona launched a five-year infrastructure plan, which aims to improve congestion on major interstates and includes the state’s first public-private partnership highway project. This program follows other major transportation plans in Virginia, Indiana, and California. Read More>>

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet on June 26 released a list of over 1,100 upcoming statewide transportation projects. The projects are scored using an objective formula, to help prioritize funding for more urgent projects in the state’s next Highway Plan. Read More>>

A two-year pilot program for a pay-by-mile road fee is coming to an end in Oregon. Proposed as an alternative to the gas tax, the OReGO program charges a flat rate based on distance driven and refunds volunteers’ state gas tax. The program concluded with a balance of negative $1,357.25, meaning the state refunded more gas tax revenue than it collected in it’s tax on miles driven. However, the volunteer program found that pay-per-mile options are viable for future transportation system funding. Read More>>

Oklahoma was recently ranked by TRIP as among the worst in the nation for rural roads and bridges. Poor conditions on rural roads contribute to a higher rate of accidents and an increased need for repairs. Read More>>

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana vetoed legislation regarding state road spending. House Bill 598 would have allowed state lawmakers to make additions or substitutions on the official list of transportation projects, which is compiled by the state Department of Transportation and Development. The governor claims that the veto should restore confidence in the DOTD, by preventing an injection of politics into “a process that should be based on data and needs.” Read More>>

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

June 30: Oregon Lawmakers Propose Compromise Transportation Funding Bill

June 30: Oregon Lawmakers Propose Compromise Transportation Funding Bill

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) on June 28 announced a compromise agreement on a new transportation spending package. The plan includes $4 billion in new taxes and fees, but loses many features of an earlier proposal which would have generated $8.2 billion. Highlights include:

  • The new package removes previously earmarked funding, including $1.1 billion in freeway widening projects. These projects would now possibly require toll revenues for funding;
  • The gas tax would increase 10 cents-per-gallon over the next eight years, less than earlier packages (raising $200 million/year);
  • New state payroll taxes would fund mass transit (.1%, raising $107 million/year);
  • Vehicle registration and weight fees would be raised;
  • A new car sales tax (0.5 percent less than the original proposal), with half the revenue dedicated to rebates for electric vehicle purchases.

Environmentalists have secured a $12 million annual rebate program for electric and hybrid vehicles, providing a $1500-2500 subsidy on purchases to up to 6000 people each year. The rebates will prioritize residents in low income and/or high pollution areas. However, subsidies for alternative fuels will have a cap (around $500 million/year).

Lawmakers have less than two weeks to finalize and vote on the plan. Read More>>

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