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Election Update 2014: Voters Weigh in on Transportation Issues

Streetsblog.net; Land Line Magazine, cfte.org – November 6, 2014

Earlier this month, voters in states around the country had their say on various transportation-related initiatives. Here are some annual averages from the past few years, followed by a portion of the measures on the ballots this year.

2014 Results YTD

18 States
59 Measures
Win: 42
Loss: 17
Success Rate: 71%

2013 Results

8 States
15 Measures
Win: 11
Loss: 4
Success Rate: 73%

2012 Results

17 States
62 Measures
Win: 49
Loss: 13
Success Rate: 79%

Statewide voters in Louisiana rejected an amendment to the state’s constitution to allow for the investment of public funds into a yet-to-be-created transportation infrastructure bank. In addition, it would have set up a revolving loan program for municipalities to borrow for road improvements.

Maryland voters said yes to amend the state constitution to create a “lockbox” to secure revenue from fuel taxes, vehicles sales tax and registration fees, and transit fees for transportation purposes.

In a loss for transportation funding, Massachusetts voters approved a reversal of a state law that ties the state’s fuel tax rate to inflation, which allows for regular increases.

Oregon voters approved statewide Measure 88, to overturn a 2013 state law to make four-year personal driver licenses available to residents unable to prove they are in the country legally.

Rhode Island voters approved the statewide Question 6 regarding whether to authorize borrowing $35 million to move forward with a variety of upgrades that include repairs to the Providence train station, expanding bus service on popular routes and better links between the city’s airport and train station.

Texas voters approved a statewide Proposition 1 that authorizes rerouting half of the state’s oil and gas severance tax revenue from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the state highway fund. It is estimated to amount to $1.4 billion in the first year.

Wisconsin passed a statewide question of whether to require all fuel tax and vehicle fee revenue to be used only for the state’s transportation system.

In California’s Oakland and Alameda Counties, a half-cent sales tax hike passed the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass in Alameda County, funding nearly $8 billion in transportation projects with most going toward transit, biking, and walking.

Voters in Fairfax County, Virginia, widely approved a transportation bond package full of good stuff. According to Network blog Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling:

The $100 million bond includes $77.5 million in pedestrian projects, $6.5 million in bike projects, and $16 million in spot road projects. The vote shows that Fairfax residents want safe walk and bike routes and are willing to pay for them.

This continues to be an amazing success rate (71%), which tells me Americans are generally okay with paying for transportation, upon the condition that they know what they are going to get for their investment.
JN