Successful Legislative Campaigns
On Oct. 7, 2016, New Jersey lawmakers approved legislation to increase 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 include several tax cuts.
South Carolina lawmakers created short-term transportation funding legislation that utilizes over $200 million in existing fees to borrow approximately $2.2 billion to fund major interstate and bridge projects over the next decade. This 2016 bill also gives the Governor much more influence in the selection of members to the Commission of the Department of Transportation, which provides regulatory oversight to the use of transportation revenues included in this legislation.
In 2015, North Carolina state lawmakers prevented a dramatic motor fuel tax cut, eliminated Highway Fund transfers, raised Division of Motor Vehicle fees, increased the tax on out-of-state motor vehicle purchases, and permitted municipalities to increase their local vehicle sales tax. By doing so, the state raised a total of $1.2 billion in additional transportation revenue availability for Fiscal Year 2016-2017, including $440 million annually in new revenues.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) signed into law on August 2 legislation to permit $2.8 billion in transportation bonds. The bonds will be used to fund the first five years of Gov. Malloy’s “Let’s Go CT” program, a 30-year plan to upgrade the state’s highways and bridges, expand the rail system and bus service, and improve airports, ports, bike and pedestrian paths, and freight systems.
After a measure to increase transportation revenue failed to be approved by voters, Michigan lawmakers passed legislation in November 2015 to increase the state gasoline and diesel fuel taxes to 26.3 cents-per-gallon; tax alternative fuels at the state motor fuel tax rate; establish an alternative fuel dealer license and fee; increase registration fees by 20 percent; and create a new annual fee for electric-powered motor vehicles.
- Case Study- Michigan Transportation Funding Package (2015)
- Bill Text: HB 4738 (Alternative Fuels), HB 4736 (Vehicle Registration Fees), and HB 4615 (Increase motor fuel tax, index to CPI)
- Senate Fiscal Analysis of Michigan Transportation Funding Package
House Bill 140 was passed by the Delaware legislature on July 1 in order to increase state Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fees in order to generate new revenue for transportation funding.
Senate Bill 5987 was signed into law on July 15, 2015 in order to increase the state gas tax by 11.9 cents-per-gallon and increase transportation-related fees, as well as permit Sound Transit residents to vote on a plan to fund expansion of the region’s lightrail system.
Senate Bill 1 was approved on March 30, 2015 in order to increase the state gas tax by 6 cents-per-gallon and raise various transportation-related fees.
A bill to increase the state gas tax by 5 cents-per-gallon and create a 12 percent tax on the average wholesale price of fuel, to replace the state’s flat gas tax once the price of fuel reaches $2.45 per gallon. Utah HB 362 was signed into law on March 27, 2015.
Legislation approved May 4, 2015 to remove the variable-rate motor fuel tax and institute a flat cents-per-gallon increase, which will be indexed, as well as raise various transportation-related fees.
Legislation approved April 21, 2015 in order to increase the state gas tax by 7 cents-per-gallon, raise vehicle registration fees, and institute a fee on electric and hybrid cars in order to generate new funding for the state’s roads and bridges.
Senate File 257 was signed into law on February 24, 2015 in order to increase the state gas tax by 10 cents-per-gallon.
The Nebraska legislature voted on May 14 to override the Governor’s veto of a 6 cents-per-gallon gas tax increase. The increase will be gradually implemented over 4 years, starting with 1.5 cents-per-gallon on January 1, 2016. By passing this bill, Nebraska became the sixth state in 2015 to approve a gas tax increase.
A 4.2 cents-per-gallon motor fuel increase was signed into law in New Hampshire on May 20, 2014 for the purpose of resurfacing and reconstruction on secondary roadways, municipal bridges, and Interstate 93.
A bill to increase the state gas tax by 1 cent-per-gallon (starting July 1, 2015), revisited every two years to reflect increases based on the rate of inflation; increase vehicle inspection fees from $39 to $55; and raise court fees drivers pay to dispute fines for traffic violations from $25 to $50. H 7133 (Article 21- Relating to Transportation) also transferred existing motor vehicle fees and surcharges, previously deposited into the General Fund, to the Rhode Island Highway Maintenance Account.
This successful legislative campaign with the Virginia state legislature produced a five-year, $3.4 billion transportation investment bill that, among other changes, replaced the state’s gas tax with a sales tax on motor fuel. The legislature passed the bill in March, and Governor McDonnell (R) signed this overhaul of the transportation funding system into law in May. The new law scrapped the gas tax, raised the sales tax, established a tax on wholesale gas and diesel, and charged registration fees for hybrid, electric and alternative-fuel vehicles.
- Case Study – Virginia – 2013
- Campaign Advertising Materials: Virginia “Let’s Go VA” Campaign
- VTCA Virginia Statewide Survey of Likely Voters (January 2012): VTCA Public Release of Poll Results
- Study Conducted by ARTBA: ARTBA Study VA
- Article: “Va. Primary May Not Sway National Debate.” Scott Wong. Politico Pro. June 12, 2013. Article 2013
This successful legislative campaign in the Maryland state legislature resulted in the enactment of a transportation gasoline/sales tax package that has been projected to generate $830 million per year for road and public transportation improvements. This law raised taxes on gasoline in stages over a four-year period – with a roughly four-cents-per-gallon increase on July 1, 2013. More specifically, the law established a new three percent sales tax on wholesale gas, which will be introduced over a three-year period. This law also automatically adjusted the flat tax on gas to account for changes in inflation.
In 2013, the Ohio state legislature delivered an increase in transportation funding. Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) signed a two-year, $7.6 billion transportation and public safety budget bill that also permitted states to use toll revenue from the Ohio Turnpike for projects beyond its 241-mile toll road borders. The law allocated $4 billion to pay for road and bridge contracts, which was mostly funded through fuel tax revenues.
The Vermont legislature increased the fuel tax to support transportation investment throughout the state in 2013. Vermont enacted a two-percent sales tax on gasoline as well as a 0.8 cent decrease in the per gallon tax, and a two-cents-per-gallon diesel tax increase —phased in over two years— that will generate $28 million per year to support road and bridge improvements.
This successful vehicles-miles-traveled (VMT) pilot program passed in the Oregon state legislature in 2013, and this road usage charge system will be the first in the nation. Senate Bill 810 established a new program in which drivers are able to voluntarily participate in a mileage-based user fee system instead of paying the traditional fuel excise tax in Oregon.
INDIANA CASE STUDY: BUDGET INCREASE (2013)
PENNSYLVANIA: HOUSE BILL 1060 (2013) This successful legislative campaign with the Pennsylvania state legislature produced a five-year, $2.3 billion transportation package. The comprehensive transportation bill passed in November 2013, and it will provide an additional $2.3 to $2.4 billion for Pennsylvania highways, bridges, rail, airports, transit, and bike/pedestrian facilities. The law eliminated the state retail gas tax paid at the pump and removed the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax, which was charged at the wholesale level.
TEXAS: CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT (2013) In August of 2013, the Texas legislature successfully approved a measure to redirect $1.2 billion annually in oil and gas revenue from the state’s general Rainy Day Fund to support transportation improvements. This constitutional amendment must still be approved by Texas voters in 2014.
MASSACHUSETTS: 2013 This successful legislative campaign with the Massachusetts state legislature resulted in an increase of the gasoline tax in order to generate additional transportation funding. In July of 2013, Massachusetts legislators overrode a veto from Governor Deval Patrick (D) to enact a three-cents–per-gallon gasoline tax increase as part of an $800 million transportation bill—Governor Patrick had pushed for an even more ambitious plan. As a result of the bill’s passage, the gasoline tax increased by three-cents-per-gallon on July 31, 2013—from 21 cents-per-gallon to 24-cents-per-gallon.