In light of the recent elections, infrastructure investment has now moved from a topic of discussion into a plan for action in many states. With the nation’s pressing infrastructure needs and limited federal funds available, ASCE is pleased that many states are finding creative ways to pay for infrastructure improvements through other means.
With six states successfully passing ballots to fund infrastructure, it’s clear that many Americans are tired of underinvestment and want to see initiatives to improve infrastructure in their communities.
In Maryland and Wisconsin, voters approved a transportation “lockbox” to secure funds for infrastructure needs. In Texas, oil and gas taxes will be used as a source for transportation funding. Rhode Island passed an initiative allowing the sale of bonds to fund renovations to mass transit and California passed an initiative that will improve water security for the state.
Even in Michigan, where there was no infrastructure-related ballot initiative, Governor Rick Snyder announced his plan to raise at least $1 billion in new revenues for road repairs through fuel taxes and fees before the end of the year.
Joseph Kane, a researcher with the Metropolitan Policy Program said, “The public sees the impact of transportation on their lives every day and so the attention this issue is receiving at the ballot box shows their growing awareness of problems.”
Though several states are making proactive strides to improve infrastructure through investment, not all states are willing to take these steps. Massachusetts voters repealed gas tax indexing, which would have provided critical funding for transportation in the state. Louisiana also rejected a ballot initiative which would have created an infrastructure bank.
ASCE President, Bob Stevens, Ph.D., P.E., said, “By failing to increase revenue or protect funding, these states are continuing with the status-quo, which is unacceptable. Leaders at all levels of government are now tasked with finding solutions to the infrastructure deficit.”
Ballot measures to improve state infrastructure are steps in the right direction but are not enough without long-term, sustainable funding at the federal level. Voters demonstrated they want more investment in infrastructure. Now it’s time for Congress to respond to that plea and #FixtheTrustFund.