Support Hits 20-year High
Voters in 19 states Nov. 3 approved 94 percent of state and local ballot initiatives that will provide an additional $14 billion in one-time and recurring revenue for transportation improvements.
The approval rate (303 out of 322 finalized) was the highest level in the 20 years the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has been tracking such initiatives.
Results are still pending for 13 measures, according to the analysis conducted by ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ (ARTBA-TIAC).
One of the most notable results includes Arkansas, where a half-cent sales tax increase renewal succeeded by 55 percent to 45 percent. The measure, originally approved by voters in 2012, is projected to raise approximately $205 million annually for state highways and $44 million annually for localities.
Another voter endorsement occurred in Austin, Texas, where a $7.1 billion transportation bond was approved 67 percent to 33 percent. Revenue will fund the initial and ongoing costs of Project Connect, a transit plan anchored by two high-capacity light rail lines serving the city’s densest neighborhoods.
In the Portland, Oregon metro area, voters rejected a 0.75 percent payroll tax on employers that would have funded a $7 billion transportation plan comprised of safety and transit projects.
Historically, most transportation measures are placed on the ballot in even-numbered years when congressional or presidential elections drive higher turnout. However, the impacts of COVID-19 caused several notable measures to be removed this year. These included measures in the California’s Bay Area, Sacramento, and Riverside counties that were expected to raise over $100 billion in revenue over the next 40 years. Proponents are expected to try again in the next election cycle.
The approved 2020 measures will support $12.6 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.26 billion in continued funding through tax extensions, renewals or protections.