Many state legislatures have already adjourned their session until 2018 while others are nearing the halfway point. Now is a good time to review what progress has been made on infrastructure issues. Despite mixed outcomes, transportation was once again at the top of the “to do lists” of many legislative chambers in 2017.
Five states (California, Indiana, Montana, South Carolina and Tennessee) invested in their roads by raising the gas tax this session. Here is just a taste of the activity we’ve been following from coast to coast:
- Connecticut has the potential to join nearly 30 other states in extending “lockbox” protections to its Transportation coffers. On June 7, the Senate overwhelming approved a bill that places the decision in the hands of voters during the next general election in 2018. While there was success on this measure a bill on tolling failed to advance out of the House Chamber.
- Louisiana had a short-lived run at a gas tax increase. The bill proposed by State Representative Steve Carter (R-Baton Rouge) would have raised the gas tax by 17-cents per gallon was shelved after it was believed it would not muster the votes needed for passage. Despite negotiations that would have reduced the increase to 10-cents per gallon, the bill was not given an opportunity to be voted on in this year’s session.
- Minnesota’s legislature and Governor Dayton (D) took their transportation funding debate into special session. (A special session is when the legislature comes together outside of its pre-scheduled session for a specific purpose.) While a $6 billion package was ultimately passed, it did so relying on transfers from the general fund rather than increases in users fees, like the gas tax and motor vehicle registration.
- Texas wrapped up its 2017 session with a budget compromise that delays some of the funding authorized by a ballot measure. The delay affects nearly $2 billion in revenue slated for the state transportation fund by the passage of Proposition 7 in 2015.
- West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (D) and the state legislature are currently in discussions over the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. One of the many talking points surrounds transportation funding. The Governor has been clear that he wishes to raise the gas tax, Department of Motor Vehicle fees and tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike to raise additional revenue for road reconstruction. Currently in a special session, it remains to be seen what the legislature will do.
- Wisconsin has been grappling with how best to fund its transportation needs over the last few sessions. While Governor and legislature remain at odds as to whether a gas tax increase, tolling or some not yet named alternative funding source is best, the state is nearing the July 1 start of the fiscal year. Wisconsin however, is one of the few states that remains in session year round so there’s still time to resolve any differences during the regular session.
ASCE will continue to keep a close eye on the states as infrastructure funding discussions extend into summer recesses or interim work periods. We ask that you do the same by seeing what’s on the table in your state.