Thursday, February 21, 2013

Transportation Funding Proposals in the States

The start of the year (and new terms and legislative sessions) has brought a renewed interest in our nation's infrastructure. Governors and legislators in several states kicked off the year with proposals to increase transportation investment. 

Proposals range from sales and gas tax increases to new vehicle registration fees and local taxing authority.Unique among this year's proposals are suggestions of eliminating state gas taxes or decreasing the federal gas tax in an effort to devolve infrastructure financing authority to the states.

Highlights:

Idaho- Governor Butch Otter said in his State of the State message that hesupports a broad local option tax, which had previously only been allowed in resort cities.

Indiana- Legislation is making it's with through the Indiana House that would allow Marion and Hamilton Counties (Indianapolis) to go to voters for an income tax increase to support expansion of public transit.  Efforts to get enabling authority to improve transit in this region are many years in the making.

Maryland- Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has proposed allowing counties to impose their on 5 cents a gallon gas tax to support local roads and transit. His proposal also includes a 3 percent statewide sales tax on gasoline purchases. Governor Martin O'Malley has been meeting with lawmakers specifically to achieve consensus on a transportation funding plan.

Massachusetts- Governor Deval Patrick released a comprehensive transportation fundingplan designed to generate over $1 billion annually for the states roads and transit systems. Options included increases to sales, gas or income taxes, a fee on vehicle miles traveled, and increased fees on heavily-polluting vehicles.

Pennsylvania- Governor Tom Corbett has proposed a 25-cent per gallon increase to the state gas tax over the next five years. This would generate $1.8 billion annually for transportation projects. Most of the funding would go to repair structurally deficient roadways and bridges, but state's largest transit system would also receive extra funding.

Utah- The Utah Senate is moving forward a bill asking Congress to lower the federal gas tax so that the states can increase theirs and have more direct control over transportation funding. A similar bill may be introduced in Congress, but is unlikely to get much traction.

Virginia- Governor Robert F. McDonnell proposed a sweeping plan to raise $3.1 billion over five-years for its cash-strapped transportation system. The proposal included an increase in vehicle registration fees, an increase in the state's sales tax and revenue from the implementation of an internet sales tax. Most intriguing about this proposal was not the $100 charge on drivers of alternative-fuel cars, but the elimination of the state gas tax to reduce the overall tax burden.

A committee in the Virginia Senate approved a compromise bill last week that increases the state gas tax, transfers more general funds to transportation and gives certain local jurisdictions authority to go to voters for a 1 cent sales tax.

Wisconsin- A state transportation commission has proposed a 5-cent per gallon increase in the state's gas tax, an increase in heavy truck registration fees, and an increase in vehicle registration fees based on miles traveled. Combined, the measures would provide an additional $480 million annually over 10 years for the state's transportation system.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lessons Learned from Los Angeles' Measure J

One of the most disappointing losses for transit in 2012 was the defeat of Measure J in Los Angeles County.  Despite garnering the support of over 65% of voters, this extension was brought down by California's supermajority requirement for tax measures.T

Measure J was a 30-year, half-cent sales tax extension that would have secured approximately $90 billion for transportation investment through 2069. More importantly, it was designed to allow the region to borrow against future tax receipts to complete major projects (laid out during the campaign for the initial half-cent sales tax in 2008) in 10 years instead of 30.

CFTE sought insight into this campaign from one of the key organizations involved.


Read our interview with Gloria Ohland, Director of Policy and Communications at Move LA.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Registration Is Open for the 2013 TIC Conference!


The 2013 Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference will be held June 23 - 26 in Atlanta, GA, at the Loews Atlanta Hotel. Last year, we saw 79% of transit ballot measures approved by voters. This astounding success rate is leading a growing number of us to ask how we can replicate this method of supporting transportation investment and choice in our own communities. We invite all interested participants -- from transit advocates to campaign professionals, elected officials to public agency staff -- to attend this biennial event dedicated to understanding and evaluating the role of ballot initiatives in transportation policy and finance.  
This year's event includes a pre-conference grassroots workshop, three days of interactive sessions, and plenty of networking opportunities to share your experiences and learn from peers in other communities.