Voters in 31 states Nov. 6 once again showed their support for transportation infrastructure investments, approving 79 percent of 346 state and local ballot measures. In the most closely watched initiative (Proposition 6), California voters turned back an effort (55 percent to 45 percent) to repeal an increase in the state gasoline and diesel motor fuels tax that had been previously approved by the legislature as part of a 2017 transportation funding law. That decision by voters will help preserve more than $50 billion for urgently-needed highway, bridge, transit improvements in California over a 10-year period.
In total, the 272 approved initiatives are expected to generate over $30 billion in one-time and recurring revenue, according to the analysis conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ (ARTBA-TIAC).
The 2018 preliminary results reaffirmed the trend of recent years demonstrating strong voter support for investments to maintain and improve their state/local transportation networks. Including 2018, voters have approved 78 percent of nearly 1,700 transportation investment ballot measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC since 2009.
Voters in California preserved the $5.2 billion annual transportation investment supported by the gas and diesel fuel tax increase. The repeal attempt was part of a larger effort by Congressional leaders to increase Republican voter turnout in several key California Congressional districts.
A proposed state gas tax increase in Missouri met unexpected resistance at the polls, with voters rejecting the measure 54 percent to 46 percent. Opponents of the measure questioned why $288 million of the estimated $412 million in new annual revenue would be directed to state highway police, which may have been a contributing factor in the defeat.
In Colorado, voters rejected two measures to provide new transportation investments. Proposition 109, a measure to provide one-time funding with a $3.5 billion bond, was rejected 39 percent to 61 percent. Proposition 110, which would have increased the state sales tax by 0.62 percent for 20 years and provided an initial jumpstart with a $6 billion bond, also failed, 40 percent to 60 percent. Both measures were placed on the ballot through voter referendum. The Colorado Department of Transportation estimates it is facing a $25 billion transportation funding gap over the next 25 years. Despite the loss, voters are not done with transportation funding; 2018 legislation authorized a $2.3 billion bond ballot measure for roadways and transit improvement for the November 2019 ballot, which would only appear if both 2018 ballot measures failed.
Some additional highlights include:
• Statewide measures to protect transportation funds from being diverted to non-transportation purposes passed in Connecticut and Louisiana.
• Florida approved nearly $25 billion in new transportation investment revenue, the most through local ballot measures.
• Of the 337 local ballot measures, most (229) asked voters to approve property tax increases, primarily in Ohio (165) and Michigan (49) where many municipalities consistently ask voters to renew ongoing taxes to pay for local roads and infrastructure repairs.
• Sales/income taxes generated the most approved revenue ($27.53 billion).
Earlier in the year, voters approved 192 measures for an additional $6.4 billion in transportation revenue. The market impact of these ballot measures is difficult to project as revenue approved ranges from immediate one-time investment to a contribution made annually for as long as 30 years.
The complete report and an interactive map showing the state-by-state results can be found at www.transportationinvestment.org.