Voters in the Nov. 7 election may have been in a nasty mood regarding Republican politicians, but they looked more kindly on many state and local efforts to gain funding for transportation, flood control, and other civil projects. In total, according to an American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) review, successful measures will generate nearly $40 billion in new revenue just for transportation infrastructure work. A summary of transportation and other measures decided on Nov. 7 is available online at www.artba.org./ballot .
Americans in 14 states voted on at least 30 transportation-funding related ballot initiatives in this year’s election, ARTBA says. Of the 30 ballot measures, 28 (93 percent) asked voters to initiate, extend, or increase taxes, or approve bonds to fund transportation improvements. Twenty-three (77 percent of the bond and tax measures) were approved. On average, voters approved the winning measures by a 66-percent majority.
In California alone, voters approved a slate of infrastructure bond issues totaling more than $42 billion:
- Proposition 1B authorizes the state to sell about $20 billion of general obligation bonds to fund transportation projects to relieve congestion, improve the movement of goods, improve air quality, and enhance the safety and security of the transportation system;
- Proposition 1C authorizes the state to sell $2.85 billion of general obligation bonds to fund 13 new and existing housing and development programs;
- Proposition 1D allows the state to sell $10.4 billion of general obligation bonds for K-12 schools and higher education facilities;
- Proposition 1E authorizes the state to sell about $4.1 billion in general obligation bonds for various flood management programs; and
- Proposition 84 allows the state to sell $5.4 billion in general obligation bonds for safe drinking water, water quality, and water supply; flood control; natural resource protection; and park improvements.
Among other issues noted by ARTBA, in Minnesota, a new constitutional amendment will dedicate all of the sales tax from car and truck sales to highway and transit investment, which should generate $300 million each year. Voters in New Jersey increased the portion of the existing state gas tax that is dedicated to transportation, which is expected to generate an additional $78 million annually.
Local measures included eight initiatives to extend or renew an existing sales tax for transportation purposes (all eight were approved), 12 new taxes for transportation (eight approved, four were defeated), and two increases in existing sales or property taxes (both approved). However, a highway bond initiative, in Stafford, Va., was defeated, and voters in Spokane County, Wash., defeated two proposals for transit funding.
In a non-funding issue, voters rejected a ballot initiative in Lexington, Ky., to use eminent domain for a public takeover of a local water utility. Water service in Lexington has been provided by private utilities for more than 100 years. Currently, Kentucky American Water serves about 300,000 people in the area.