Votes for the President and Members of Congress aren’t the only ones that will be cast this November. In some states, infrastructure funding measures will also be on the ballot.
This is a trend that many states and localities have turned to as a way to improve infrastructure. Upon their initial analysis the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center estimated the ballot measures passed in 2014 would generate $15 billion in additional revenue for transportation improvements and an additional $4 billion resulted from those voted on during the 2015 election cycle. During each election cycle voters approved over two-thirds of measures appearing on the ballot demonstrating the public’s increased understanding of the need to invest in both maintaining and improving our infrastructure.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be giving a rundown of the infrastructure ballot measures. Here’s a preview:
- Alabama’s Statewide Amendment 2 asks voters to provide the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources the option to provide and management of certain facilities by non-state entities. What the question does not detail is that if passed the authorizing Act would also provide for a “lockbox” on the Parks Revolving Fund to ensure revenue deposited into this account is allocated to support and maintain properties within the state park system.
- California voters are being asked to vote on Proposition 53 a bill that will ask voters to consider how projects funded via bonds are approved.
- Illinois voters are being tasked with voting on a single statewide ballot measure. Question 1 asks voters to approve a “lockbox” on the state transportation budget. If approved, Illinois would join 30 states that currently place constitutional restrictions on how transportation revenue can be spent. Maryland and Wisconsin voters most recently passed such measures in 2014.
- Maine’s Question 6 comes on the heels of 2015’s Question 3 which also approved funding for the state’s roadways and bridges.
- New Jersey will put Public Question 2 on the ballot to increase funding for transportation. While this will not solve the current crisis facing the State Transportation Trust Fund, the question will dedicate an additional 3-cents of the current gas tax to the Transportation Trust Fund.
In addition to these statewide measures, there are also a couple of cities and regions that will vote on improvements to public transit:
- Residents of the City of Atlanta and Fulton County, Georgia will see a question on their ballot asking them to approve additional funding for its public transit system, MARTA. Just a half-penny sales tax increase would be imposed if the ballot measure passes. It is expected to increase revenue by $2.5 billion over the next 40 years.
- Counties serviced by the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan have approved language, if approved, is estimated to raise $4.7 billion over 20-years for the RTA. The 1.2-mill property tax ($1.20 per $1,000 of taxable value) requires a majority of votes across Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.
- Several San Francisco area communities will see a measure attempting to raise an estimated $3.5 billion over approximately the next 50 years. The revenue generated by the property tax to be imposed on homeowners will be dedicated to replacing and modernizing the BART transit system which is expected to increase capacity by 75% in 2040.
November is a time to focus public officials’ attention on the infrastructure needs in your backyard by casting your vote. ASCE is here to help inform you of the decision to be made at the bottom of the ballot in your home state. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we provide you with additional information you’ll need as you prepare to head into the voting booth. Most importantly, don’t forget to get out and vote!
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