By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA
Voters in 19 states Nov. 5 sent a decisive message of support for transportation investment, approving almost 90 percent of 305 state and local transportation ballot measures.
In total, the 270 approved initiatives are expected to generate over $9.6 billion in one-time and recurring revenue, according to the analysis conducted by ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ (ARTBA-TIAC). Two measures in Texas are still pending.
“The ballot results are a great reminder infrastructure investment remains one of the few areas where red states, blue states, Republicans and Democrats can all come together,” ARTBA President Dave Bauer said. “It should also demonstrate to lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the public will be on board for the passage of a long-term bill that significantly boosts highway and transit investment at the federal level.”
A complete report and an all-new interactive dashboard that filters results by state, mode, year and type of initiative are available at the Center’s flagship website.
The preliminary results reaffirm a decade-long trend of voters strongly supporting investments to maintain and improve their state or local transportation networks. Voters have approved 81 percent of nearly 2,000 transportation investment ballot measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC since 2010, including this year’s results.
“Public support for increasing infrastructure investment continues to help local governments and the transportation construction community improve safety, mobility and overall quality of life for residents as projects get underway,” said Carolyn Kramer, ARTBA-TIAC director.
Voters in Maine overwhelmingly approved, by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin, a $105 million bond measure to support transportation infrastructure projects. The vote was Maine’s seventh successful transportation bond in eight years.
While transportation investment fared well nationwide, Washington state voters endorsed by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin a measure that reduces or repeals certain motor vehicle taxes and fees and removes the authority to impose certain new fees without their approval. This decision will cost the state nearly $4.3 billion in state and local transportation revenue over the next six years.
A measure in Colorado that would have permitted the state to retain excess tax collections in order to fund education and transportation failed by a 55 percent to 45 percent vote.
The 305 measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC is the largest number ever for an odd-numbered, off-year election. Although historically most transportation measures are put on the ballot in even-numbered years when congressional or presidential elections drive higher turnout, an increasing number of measures are being considered by voters during odd-numbered years and primary elections.
There were 57 measures in 12 states that would raise over $20 million each, compared to 21 measures in 2017. Of that total, 89 percent were approved. Of 25 measures that would raise over $100 million, voters approved 92 percent. This included a bond measure in Harris County, Texas to support transit expansions in Houston under the “Moving Forward Plan.”
Of the local ballot measures, most (302 of 305) were property tax increases, primarily in Ohio (154) and Michigan (15), where many municipalities consistently ask voters to renew such assessments to pay for local roads and infrastructure repairs.
Additionally, local bond measures in Texas appeared on 25 ballots and received 96 percent approval, which will generate nearly $6 billion. Most of these measures established municipal utility districts.
The approved measures will support $7.7 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.9 billion in continued funding through tax extensions, renewals or protections. The timing of the market impact of these actions is difficult to project as revenue approved will last up to 25 years.