by Tyler Kane, Transportation Investment Advocacy Center
Ballot initiatives proposed by a coalition of Colorado businesses that sought to increase investment in roads, bridges, and highways throughout the state were withdrawn on May 18 from this year’s upcoming election. The number of initiatives on November’s ballot was labeled “confusing” by several businesses, who hope to include them on the 2018 midterm ballot. With a $25 billion transportation funding shortfall looming over the next 25 years, there is now speculation that Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) will call a special legislative session (this year?) to discuss increasing funding for transportation projects. Read More.
Continued inaction and disagreement on the part of the West Virginia Legislature concerning transportation funding has led to significant financial strain on area contractors who rely on state investment to hire and pay workers, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported May 14. Debates over raising taxes and cutting public services have complicated these companies’ funding issues, forcing some to lay off employees. Read More.
The Oregon Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel released a report May 17 calling for increased funding to maintain the state’s roads and bridges as well as reduce highway congestion. Additional congestion control could serve as a vital line of support to certain areas of the state in the event of an earthquake. Further advocacy for these issues will be heard as the newly formed Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization begins touring the state on May 25 to gather public opinion and consensus on the status of Oregon’s roads. Read More.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) received a $684 million budget proposal for transportation funding from state lawmakers on May 11, which would accelerate construction on several highway projects. While approximately $220 million of the proposal came from federal funding, a 2013 measure that allowed toll revenue to be used statewide accounted for $450 million of the proposed allocation. Read More.
The Oklahoma House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget on May 17 rejected a proposal to raise both gasoline and diesel taxes by 3 cents. House Minority Leader Scott Inman applauded the rejection on the notion that Oklahomans oppose raising the gas tax, although the state has one of the nation’s lowest overall taxation rates, resting at 46th in the nation. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation announced on March 8 that, after having $31 million cut from the budget and further cuts expected, projects could be canceled or delayed. Read More.