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.
Connecticut’s newly introduced SB 70 aims to create a state infrastructure bank to fund infrastructure improvements by financing a loan program. State Sen. Alex Bergstein (D) , who also introduced SB 102 – a separate bill that implements electronic tolls on major highways – on March 4 was continuing to gather support for the bills. Read More>>
As of March 6, Connecticut Department of Transportation officials are forming price points for 53 (down from 82) potential toll gantries on major roadways like I-84, I-91, I-95, and the Merritt and Wilbur parkways. Officials are considering charging 4.4 cents per mile during peak hours and 3.5 cents per mile during off peak hours, which could generate an estimated $800 million each year. Read More>>
The Arkansas Senate approved legislation on March 5 that increases the wholesale fuel tax by 3 cents per gallon for gasoline and 6 cents per gallon for diesel. As part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) $300 million highway funding plan, the tax hike will be accompanied by increased registration fees for hybrid and electric vehicles and at least $35 million annually in revenue from casinos. Read More>>
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) called a special session on March 6 to levy an additional excise tax on motor fuel. Ivey also aims to make headway on increasing the authority of the Joint Transportation Committee and the Alabama Highway Finance Corp. Read More>>
Critical deficiencies in New York’s statewide and local transportation infrastructure have received extra attention after examination from Republican legislators. New York Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R – 132) said March 4 that the crisis necessitates action, specifically “cooperation on targeted legislation, strategic planning and, especially, investment.” Read More>>
Missouri State Sen. Bill Eigel (R – 23) on March 4 proposed legislation that would prompt voters to amend the state’s Constitution to prohibit road funds from being spent on the Highway Patrol and administrative costs. This could concede up to $300 million annually in infrastructure revenue. Read More>>
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) on March 4 told Green Bay residents of his proposed gas tax increase, new car title fees, truck registration fees, and the repeal of the minimum markup law. Combined, the measures could generate $600 million in new funding for roads, ports, and transit over two years. Read More>>
Did you miss the recent ARTBA/APTA/Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters? The data finds 96 percent believe improving infrastructure is at least “somewhat important” to future U.S. economic growth. This includes 62 percent who think it’s “very important,” while 3 percent believe infrastructure is “not very” or “not at all important.” Read More>>
Legislators in 37 states have introduced 185 bills aimed at boosting transportation investment in the first two months of 2019, a new analysis finds. This number is higher than the amount of legislation the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC) tracked over the same time period last year and is projected to grow as additional measures are introduced throughout the year.
Motor fuel taxes continue to be a popular method to raise new revenue. Twenty-one states have proposed increasing one or more types of motor fuel tax to generate funding for transportation improvements.
Of those 21 states, 10 included altering or creating a variable-rate tax that fluctuates based on external factors such as the Consumer Price Index, average wholesale price of motor fuel, or other formulas.
Continuing a trend seen in recent years, many states introduced electric vehicle fees to help ensure all vehicles that create wear and tear on roads pay for their share of maintenance. Sixteen states filed legislation to implement an electric vehicle registration fee, with 10 of those states including an additional registration fee for hybrid vehicles.
Several states are also considering innovative funding solutions. Mileage based user fee studies or pilot programs are being considered in eight states. Four states have introduced legislation to implement tolling.
Of the legislation introduced in January or February, 19 measures have advanced beyond one legislative chamber, with one bill—an electric vehicle registration fee increase in Wyoming— signed into law. Another bill in Arkansas to convert the state’s flat excise tax to a variable-rate formula based on the average wholesale price of fuel, implement new electric and hybrid motor vehicle registration fees, and utilize at least $35 million in casino revenues for transportation funding has been sent to the governor and is expected to receive final approval in March. One hundred sixty-six bills have been introduced and are awaiting further action. Several states have not yet convened for their legislative session, and at least one state—Alabama—is expected to file a significant transportation investment bill.
Read the full TIAC report.
ARTBA-TIAC tracks ongoing state transportation funding legislation across the U.S. and provides regular updates through its blog at www.transportationinvestment.org. TIAC staff also produces regular research reports and analysis, hosts an annual workshop in Washington, D.C. and holds ongoing webinars for transportation investment advocates featuring case studies, best practices and the latest in political and media strategies.
In November 2018, TIAC tracked a record 346 state and local transportation-related ballot measures in its annual election report, showing voter support for the measures at 79 percent nationwide.
Established in 1902 and with more than 8,000 public and private sector members, the Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA advocates for strong investment in transportation infrastructure to meet the public and business community demand for safe and efficient travel.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on March 5 proposed a 45 cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase as part of her first executive budget and an attempt to fulfill her campaign promise to “fix the damn roads.” Beginning Oct. 1, the tax increase would be phased in by 15 cent increments in October, April and October 2020, raising the current rate of 26.3 cents per gallon to 71.3 cents per gallon, or the highest in the nation. The increase is expected to generate an additional $2.5 billion annually, with a greater portion of the revenue allocated to roads that support the most traffic.
Whitmer’s proposal is not expected to be well received by the Republican-led legislature, which narrowly passed a 7.3 cents-per-gallon gas tax increase in 2015. State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R – 16) has recognized Michigan’s transportation needs, but said that increasing gas taxes is not a long-term solution due to rising fuel efficiency and fuel alternatives.
Whitmer said the impact on the typical motorist would be about $276 a year — considerably less than the cost of road-related repairs, which a recent study pegged at $562 per motorist per year.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) “Rebuild Alabama Infrastructure Plan” introduced Feb. 27 proposes a 10 cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase indexed to rising road construction costs and phased in over three years. The state’s current flat excise tax of 18 cents per gallon on gasoline and 19 cents per gallon on diesel has not been adjusted since 1992, while increased fuel efficiency, fleet makeup and inflation have combined with population and economic growth to increase demands on the state’s road system.
New revenue generated by the plan would be divided between state, county, and municipal governments to fund transportation improvements and preservation. A separate portion would finance improvements to ship channels at the port of Mobile. The combined investments will create jobs and spur industry growth, Ivey said.
The plan also aims to preserve public safety, which has become a severe concern for Alabamians amid increased road congestion. One-third of all traffic fatalities are estimated to be a direct result of a deficient roadway feature, according to the latest American Society of Civil Engineers report which graded Alabama roads a D+.
State Rep. Bill Poole (R – 63), who was instrumental in the plan’s crafting, will sponsor it during the 2019 legislative session, while Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R – 30) will carry the bill in the senate.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation faces threats of reduced federal funding, potential repeal of the vehicle sales transfer tax provision, litigation, and diverted funds, a Feb. 28 report showed. The state’s Transportation Advisory Committee warned that these threats combined with current levels of funding, funding needs, and other risks could lead to transportation crisis. Read More>>
Alabama drivers pay an estimated $5.3 billion annually due to severe congestion and dilapidated roads, which requires an estimated $700 million annually to meet roadway capacity demands, a new report released Feb. 26 showed. These costs are estimated to only increase unless mitigated by additional transportation funding. Read More>>
To “fix the damn roads” Michigan state legislators are faced with the choice of generating new tax revenue, diverting revenue to fund construction, or borrowing money, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) said Feb 26. CRC President, Eric Lupher, said raising the gas tax is the most likely solution to the problem, mirroring a month-old proposal from former state legislators to triple the gas tax. Read More>>
Also in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) Feb. 27. is expected to outline a road transportation funding proposal in the first week of March, where she could address the state’s estimated $2 billion road maintenance gap. One revenue solution could be removing the sales tax from gasoline sales, thus reducing the total gas tax by 15.5 cents per gallon and allowing for a proportional gas tax increase, potentially amounting to $894 million in new annual revenue. Read More>>
Matt Magalis, acting secretary of the Illinois Department to Transportation, told a state senate panel Feb. 21 that the state needs an estimated $39 billion for expansion and maintenance over the next decade, including $13 billion to $15 billion during the next 10 years for highway maintenance alone. Read More>>