In the southeast…
- Alabama Sen. Pro Tem Del Marsh (R- District 12) Nov. 28 stated that the legislature would likely consider increasing the state gas tax during the 2019 legislative session. The Association of County Commissions of Alabama reported July 20 that a new gas tax proposal is in development for the 2019 legislative session.
- Kentucky has a backlog of more than $1 billion in road paving projects, plus at least 1,000 bridges that need to be repaired or replaced, but the fund the state uses to pay for those projects has not increased since 2014. State lawmakers on Apr. 14, 2018, warned that the state will need to provide new transportation revenue in the next two years to preserve federal funding. Gov. Matt Bevin (R) Dec. 11 called on lawmakers to find a solution for the state’s transportation funding shortfall in the 2019 legislative cycle, including raising the state gas tax and fees on fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Arkansas state Sen. Breanne Davis (R-Russellville) requested on Sept. 20 that incoming Senate President Jim Hendren (R- Gravette) assist stakeholders and lawmakers with creating a transportation funding proposal ready for introduction when the legislature convenes in January.
Try again in 2019!
- While voters rejected a state gas tax increase on Nov. 6, Missouri is still facing a transportation fund shortfall of over $800 million annually. In light of this need, several lawmakers have said transportation funding will be a top priority in the 2019 legislative session. Suggestions have included public-private partnerships, tolls, and a smaller gas tax hike that would not need voter approval to be enacted.
- After the defeat of two voter referendum measures on Nov. 6, Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis (D) encouraged lawmakers and citizens to come up with new ideas to generate transportation revenue. Democratic leaders have indicated their intent to consider transportation funding options in the 2019 session. Legislation approved earlier in 2018 will place a $2.3 billion bond measure on the November 2019 ballot, unless lawmakers choose to remove it in favor of another transportation revenue source.
Leadership changes open up transportation investment possibilities?
- Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz (DFL) has made a transportation funding increase, including raising the state gas tax, part of the platform for his administration. Walz stated in November that he intends to include his transportation funding plan in his first budget proposal.
- Several Illinois local leaders, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, on Dec. 11 suggested a state gas tax increase of 20 to 30 cents-per-gallon to make needed investments in the state’s transportation infrastructure. It is likely that a transportation funding proposal would include instituting a new electric vehicle fee.
- Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) has stated “everything is on the table” for new revenue sources to close the state’s transportation funding shortfall. During his campaign Gov.-elect Evers was critical of current Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) failure to address the state’s transportation needs.
A Kansas legislatively-appointed task force Nov. 28 reached consensus on 280 new transportation projects to recommend for inclusion in the next multiyear transportation plan, as well as 21 projects that were not completed in the previous plan. The projects would be worth an estimated $18 billion. The task force will consider funding options at its final meeting on Nov. 29. One option it is likely to recommend is restoring revenue to a fund designated for cities and counties. Current law requires the state to transfer $130 million annually into that fund, but recent budget shortfalls have diverted the revenue to other purposes. The task force will make its final recommendation on current and future transportation system needs and the structure of the highway fund to the legislature on or before Jan. 31, 2019.
Connecticut Gov.-elect Ned Lamont (D) campaigned on a proposal for limited tolling as a way to increase revenue for the state’s transportation needs. A panel of advisors on transportation recommended Dec. 19 that the incoming governor expand his plan to include passenger vehicles. Tolling all vehicles could raise an estimated $1 billion annually. Voters overwhelmingly approved a lockbox on the state’s transportation fund in the Nov. 6 general election.
And one runner up…
- Louisiana’s 2019 legislative session is a short one, convening in April and adjourning in June, leaving little time to pass sizable measures. However, the state’s growing $13.1 billion backlog of transportation maintenance is putting pressure on lawmakers to address funding in the next few years. Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson warned in a radio interview Sept. 3 that the state is in jeopardy of losing federal transportation funds because it does not have the revenue to meet its match requirement. Campaigns both for and against a state gas tax increase have already begun.