Voters across the country approved eight state and local ballot initiatives worth over $376 million to increase funding for road, bridge or transit infrastructure investment on Nov. 2.
Of those initiatives, four measures approved bond issues, three increased local vehicle fees and one initiative increased a local sales tax. On average, voters approved the measures by a rate of 63%. ARTBA tracked a total of 28 transportation-related measures, of which 13 initiatives called for increasing funding for transportation investment through bonding, transfers or new tax revenues.
Some of the larger initiatives approved included a $120 million bond issue in Fairfax County, Va., a $90 million transportation improvement package in Austin, Texas, and $80 million in bonding for the state of Rhode Island.
Despite support from both gubernatorial candidates, voters did not pass a statewide initiative in Alabama that would have transferred $1 billion over 10 years from the Alabama Trust Fund, the state’s rainy day fund, for roads and bridges. Critics said the money would have been spread too thin across the 67 counties and did not focus on key transportation needs in the state. Voters also defeated four local initiatives that would have raised either a sales tax or vehicle registration fees for transportation.
In addition to the 13 funding questions, there were an additional 15 initiatives related to transportation diversions, funding cuts or transit operations.
Voters in San Mateo County, Calif., approved an amendment that would prohibit the state from delaying the distribution of tax revenues for transportation purposes, even during times of severe fiscal hardship.
A local initiative in Denver, Colo., to reduce vehicle registration fees and vehicle sales taxes, among other charges, was defeated 77 to 23%.
Results were mixed when voters were asked about increasing local taxes or issuing bonds for transit service. Five of these measures were defeated, three were approved and two sets of results have not yet been released.
In 2008 voters approved 25 bond or tax measures (of 32 total) to raise $71 billion in
transportation investment with an average approval rating of 63%. Of the 27 state and
local ballot initiatives in 2006 asking voters to increase revenue for transportation infrastructure, 77%, valued at over $40 billion, were approved. In 2004, voters supported $28 billion for transportation investment through ballot initiatives. Thirty-six initiatives—representing 78% of the bond and tax measures—were approved.