Boost in Transportation Funding Bills Reflects Increase in Public Support
A new report issued by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) indicates that state transportation funding legislation is ramping up in 2019. Analysis by ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center finds that in just the first two months of 2019, 37 states have introduced 185 bills aimed at boosting transportation investment.
This number is higher than the amount of legislation the 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—which are a key part of California’s 2017 SB-1 transportation funding package—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.
Continuing a trend seen in recent years, the report indicates 16 states are introducing electric vehicle fees to help ensure all vehicles that create wear and tear on roads pay for their share of maintenance, with 10 of those states including an additional registration fee for hybrid vehicles.
The ARTBA-TIAC report added that mileage-based user fee studies—also known as a road user charge or a vehicle miles traveled tax—are being considered in eight states, while four states have introduced legislation to implement tolling.
2019’s uptick in state transportation funding legislation follows a trend in voter support for new investment in transportation.
Voters across the country approved nearly $41 billion in new investment for transportation at the ballot box last year, according to the Eno Center for Transportation’s analysis of 2018 transportation ballot measures.
“Our analysis found that voters have a tremendous appetite to fix their infrastructure and expand transportation opportunities,” said Robert Puentes of Eno, noting that in 2018, “voters played a critical role in shaping their communities by casting their votes on investments and other decisions about transportation.”
Nationally, voters passed 142 transportation ballot measures last year, 77% of the 185 measures considered. All told, $40.9 billion was approved, 58 percent of the $70.7 billion at stake.
On a state level, 34 states considered at least one transportation measure in 2018. Voters in Florida approved the most funding for transportation. California ranked second, with over $8.6 billion approved for transportation. Also of note: in 2018, California voters rejected Prop 6, which would have repealed the fuel tax increases that provide a much-needed funding stream for California’s SB-1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.