Debt Financing

I spoke yesterday with the Vice Chair of the Missouri House Transportation Committee, Rep. Thomas Long (R), who called to fill me in on the state of transportation funding in the Show Me State. Missouri was one of the states that I included in my “13 States to Watch in 2012” at the beginning of the year based on a 2011 comment by a Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) official that the department was “exploring the possibility of doubling the state gas tax over 10 years to help pay for the widening of I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City.” In our conversation, Long made it clear that such a scenario was never in play in the Missouri legislature this session. Lawmakers did consider bills to have voter referenda on lowering the state gas tax while raising the diesel tax and adding a sales tax dedicated to road funding. A plan to toll I-70 was also considered.

Policymakers in Maryland are pondering how to move forward after the legislature wrapped up its session this week without finding new revenues for transportation. Meanwhile, Georgia continues to look ahead to this summer’s increasingly important referendum votes on regional transportation projects and the sales tax increases to fund them. Pennsylvania’s Auditor General tries to jumpstart transportation investment in his state. And Ohio looks to innovative revenue sources to tackle long-neglected projects.

When Congress returns from a two-week break next week, members will still be faced with some crucial decisions about the future of transportation in the United States. That’s even though they passed a three-month extension of federal surface transportation programs before they left town. Despite continuing pessimism that lawmakers can reach agreement on a more long-term bill prior to the November election, state government officials and others are becoming more vocal about the challenges presented by the continuing uncertainty in Washington.

It’s been a busy few weeks since we last checked in on state transportation funding activities. Here are some updates on what half-a-dozen states have been up to.

Gas and sales tax increases, state infrastructure banks, public-private partnerships and state lotteries are among the ideas being floated in state capitals around the country to help meet infrastructure needs. Here are a few updates from the last couple of weeks on how those ideas are faring.

I spoke recently with Governing magazine for an article on “Legislative Issues to Watch in 2012.” Transportation funding is likely to be one of those issues in many states this year. As legislative sessions get underway in some parts of the country this month, here’s a look at a few states it might be worth keeping an eye on in 2012.

Before I depart for the holidays, I thought I would leave you transportation policy fans with a few things to read on those iPads and Kindle Fires you may find under the tree Sunday morning. In what has become an annual tradition, it’s time to clear out the CSG Transportation inbox so we can start fresh in the New Year. There are lots of items below on many of the issues we cover regularly here on the blog including: state...

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday voted unanimously to move forward a bipartisan transportation authorization bill known by the acronym MAP-21. In the latest issue of CSG’s Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter I look at why there may still be a long road ahead before legislation is signed into law. Here is some additional analysis of the bill and its prospects. I also have updates on the potential for a gas tax increase in Iowa and the future of tolling in Washington State.

Congress this week beat a couple of looming deadlines and voted to extend authority for the Federal Aviation Administration and the nation’s surface transportation programs. Meanwhile, some are resisting President Obama’s call for the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank as part of his American Jobs Act.

State transportation officials this week called on Congress to take action by September 30th to extend the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax that funds federal highway and transit programs and to pass a long-term reauthorization of those programs. I also have items this week on the future of infrastructure finance, tolling, public transit, Smart Growth, a model for regional freight plans, Seattle’s new Big Dig and possible restructuring for the South Carolina Department of Transportation following a recent fiscal crisis.