Washington, D.C. — Voters in 20 states approved more than 80 percent of 215 transportation investment ballot measures Nov. 7, mostly at the local level, according to analysis conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC). Nearly 90 percent of public transportation initiatives were approved by voters across the United States this year, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
Roads and bridges
Preliminary results show voters approved 176 of the 215 measures, or 82 percent, ARTBA-TIAC said. Results are still pending in six Michigan localities. The approved measures will support $2.9 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.3 billion in continued funding through tax extensions or renewals. The timing of the market impact of these actions is difficult to project as revenue approved will last as long as 25 years.
Maine voters approved the only statewide measure — a $105 million transportation infrastructure bond — with 72 percent support. This was the state’s fifth successful transportation bond in six years.
Voters in Pinal County, Ariz., approved a half-cent sales tax that will total $640 million for highway construction over the next 20 years. In Pinellas County, Fla., a renewal of a 1 cent countywide sales tax will provide a total of $412 million for road, bridge and trail projects. Voters in Denver also approved a measure to provide a $415.5 million bond to fund road and bridge repairs as part of a larger $937 million bond package that voters signed off on.
Georgia voters approved all 12 sales tax measures on the ballot. As part of the state-wide transportation funding increase passed in 2015, legislators included a provision to allow local governments to raise revenue for infrastructure investment through ballot initiatives.
The largest number of measures were in Michigan and Ohio — representing over two-thirds of the initiatives tracked by ARTBA-TIAC. Many of these were smaller property tax measures to renew local funding for roads, streets and bridges for a five-year period.
Voters also approved several other measures earlier in the year, among them a $1.6 billion bond in West Virginia approved Oct. 7 with 73 percent support.
Including the most recent results, voters have approved 74 percent of over 1,200 transportation investment ballot measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC since 2007.
New Jersey voters showed their support for transportation funding on Tuesday by reelecting lawmakers who backed the state’s 2016 gas tax increase. ARTBA-TIAC tracked New Jersey state legislative elections as lawmakers faced voters for the first time since approving the October 2016 state gas tax increase.
On Nov. 7, 100 percent of 61 New Jersey lawmakers who voted for the gas tax increase in 2016 and ran for reelection won their seats. The results compare to 97 percent of 36 lawmakers who voted against the gas tax increase and won reelection.
The findings corroborate an earlier ARTBA-TIAC report that found voting for a state gas tax increase does not hurt reelection chances. The analysis of over 2,500 state legislators from 16 states who voted to increase state gas taxes for transportation funding found that 91 percent were returned to office in the next general election. This included 89 percent of Democratic legislators and 95 percent of Republican lawmakers. The reelection rates are similar among lawmakers who voted against raising gas taxes.
ARTBA-TIAC’s complete report and an interactive map showing the state-by-state results can be found at www.transportationinvestment.org.
In the November 7th election, seven of eight public transportation initiatives passed with one result still to be determined, APTA said. Throughout the country this year, voters in 17 states and communities of all sizes voted for increased investment in public transportation, bringing the success rate to nearly 90 percent (87.5 percent).
“Americans voted with their wallets by taxing themselves to support increased funding for public transportation,” said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard A. White. “Voters clearly see the value as public transit connects customers to businesses, and employees to jobs. The voters have spoken loud and clear through the ballot box that funding public transit provides their community a great return on investment.”
The results of ballot initiatives in 2017 is a part of a long track record of success. In both up and down economic years, voters have continually shown a strong interest in providing resources to create public transportation options in their communities.
Wins from the elections yesterday include:
- Denver voters passed a transportation bond ($100 million for transit) with nearly 73 percent of the vote.
- Athens-Clarke County, Ga., voters passed a new sales tax for transportation with nearly 74 percent of the vote.
- Lawrence, Kan., voters passed a sales tax for operating a transit system with almost 70 percent of the vote.
- Maine, statewide, voters approved a transportation bond with 72 percent of the vote.
- Grand Rapids, Mich., voters passed a 12-year renewal of their millage with 61 percent of the vote.
- Mahoning County, Ohio, voters renewed the sales tax for their transit system with nearly 60 percent approving.
- Philadelphia voters passed a capital projects bond that includes public transit.
- The one outstanding initiative is in Adams County, Colo.