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Voters Approve Transportation Investment at the Ballot Box


In the midterm elections, voters in 31 states once again showed their support for transportation infrastructure investments, approving 272, or 79 percent, of 346 state and local ballot measures. In total, the 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). 

Voters passed dozens of ballot measures in counties and Congressional districts throughout the country. According to the Eno Center for Transportation, a vast number of transportation-related ballot measures were for local roads. 

Two similar measures in Florida’s Hillsborough and Broward counties will raise the sales tax in each county by a penny to generate funds for transportation improvements were approved by voters. In many counties, voters approved the sale of bonds for transportation infrastructure that will go toward various projects.

"The outcome of this year’s ballot measures reflects a concerning and growing trend seen over the past few years," stated the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA). "NSSGA members have supplied the materials for many local and state level infrastructure projects enacted despite shortfalls in federal funding. According to a recent poll, 72 percent of Americans support greater investment in infrastructure and believe that infrastructure spending stimulates the economy." 

The 2018 preliminary results reaffirmed the trend of recent years, demonstrating strong voter support for investments to maintain and improve state and local transportation networks. Including 2018, voters have approved 78 percent of nearly 1,700 transportation investment ballot measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC since 2009. 

In the most closely watched initiative of 2018, California voters turned back Proposition 6, an effort to repeal an increase in the state gasoline and diesel motor fuels tax that had been approved by the legislature as part of a 2017 transportation funding law. The 55 percent to 45 percent decision by voters will help preserve more than $50 billion for urgently-needed highway, bridge, and transit improvements in California over a 10-yearperiod.

“By soundly rejecting Proposition 6 and re-electing 95 percent of the state legislators who voted in 2017 to increase the state gas tax to fund needed transportation improvements, California voters showed the public continues to support a user funded approach to infrastructure investment. That’s a message the Trump administration and new Congress should heed as they consider a bipartisan infrastructure package and permanent revenue solution for Highway Trust Fund programs next year,” said ARTBA Acting President and CEO William D. Toohey, Jr.

The California repeal attempt was part of a larger effort by Congressional leaders to increase Republican voter turnout in several key California Congressional districts. “In ginning up and funding the Prop. 6 repeal initiative as a ‘get out the vote’ ploy, the U.S. House Republican leadership nearly deprived California citizens and businesses of over $5 billion a year in transportation congestion relief projects. That was both wrong and short-sighted,” Toohey added.

Additional highlights of the TIAC report include: 

  • A proposed state gas tax increase in Missouri met unexpected resistance at the polls, with voters rejecting the measure 54 percent to 46 percent.
  • 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.
  • Statewide measures to protect transportation funds from being diverted to non-transportation purposes passed in Connecticut and Louisiana.
  • 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.