More States to Watch on Transportation Funding in 2012

Last week I blogged about 13 states to watch in 2012 on transportation funding. Here are a couple more it might be worth adding to the list, plus updates on some of my original 13.

 

  • Iowa: Although Gov. Terry Branstad (R) said last year he would not push for a gas tax increase in 2012 to fund transportation projects as recommended by a Citizen Advisory Commission he created, it now appears that some lawmakers are prepared to push forward with an increase. The Sioux City Journal reported that Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D) recently said it’s a 50-50 proposition whether the legislature will approve an increase this year and that there are a “substantial” number of members of both the Democratic and Republican caucuses who are “supportive” of investing in the state’s infrastructure. Sen. Tim Kapucian (R), the ranking member on the Senate Transportation Committee, agreed there would likely be bipartisan support for a phased-in 10-cent tax hike.
  • Pennsylvania: Similarly, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has been reluctant to get behind recommendations of an advisory commission on transportation funding in his state. But last week, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that three House Democratic leaders called for passage of legislation that would mirror the commission’s recommendations. Their bill calls for raising $2.7 billion for transportation from increased driver fees, uncapping the wholesale tax on gasoline and increasing fines. The Democrats said they believe Pennsylvanians are ready to pay 70 cents more per week in the first year and $2.50 by the fifth year of the funding plan for better roads and bridges. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Corman (R) has previously introduced similar legislation.

Updates on Our Other States to Watch

  • Washington: Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) spent a significant amount of her State of the State Address this week on transportation. Here’s a portion of what she said: “We have to step up to proper maintenance of our very valuable transportation system, from highways and bridges to ferries and city streets. When we build roads, they don’t take care of themselves. When you buy a car, you pay for it and you then maintain it by changing the oil, rotating the tires and making repairs. It’s the same with our roads, bridges and ferries. We bought them new, but unfortunately, we didn’t put money aside for maintenance. The consequences are a wake-up call. We are facing a $1.6 billion shortfall over the next 10 years just to maintain our state highways. Without maintenance, that means bad roads, more potholes, more congestion …Today, I propose a $3.6 billion, 10-year package to create about 5,500 jobs a year to maintain our transportation infrastructure across the state. In addition to small fee increases, I will ask the Legislature to pass a modest $1.50 fee on every barrel of oil produced in Washington. Our oil companies are getting all the profit and leaving us with the bill. We can do better. This package will also get money to our cities and counties to fill potholes, repair roads, update bridges and keep buses running. It will give them the option to raise additional money for maintenance and transit. We can’t wait until roads, bridges and ferries are falling apart to fix them. We can’t kick the can down the road and saddle our future generations with the repairs we failed to make. This is our year to act and approve a jobs package and invest in our future…Our record of success with transportation projects is strong. From the 2005 voter-approved gas tax, we are close to completing all 421 statewide projects. So far, 88 percent have been completed early or on time, and 91 percent were on or under budget. We can do it again: Educate ourselves and educate the public, and then build a better transportation infrastructure than the other guys.”
  • New York: Transportation was also on the mind of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in his State of the State Address last week. In proposing a $15 billion plan to repair the state’s infrastructure, the Governor told lawmakers: “We will improve or replace more than 100 bridges. And we will finally build a new Tappan Zee Bridge — because 15 years of planning is too long. We will repair 2,000 miles worth of roads – that’s like driving from Buffalo to New York City five times! We will build new roads, bridges, and other critical transportation projects across the state.” Cuomo wants to overhaul the state’s tax system, use public-private partnerships to finance projects and create a new infrastructure fund.
  • Maryland: House Majority Leader Delegate Kumar Barve (D) recently spoke with WUSA-TV about proposals for a gas tax increase in his state and a possible constitutional amendment to prevent future raids on the Transportation Trust Fund to fill budget holes.
  • Virginia: The Fairfax Times last week explored the menu of funding options on the table this year in the Old Dominion.
  • Georgia:  Gov. Nathan Deal (R) today urged support of the regional transportation referenda Georgia voters will decide on in July that would raise sales taxes by a penny to fund regionally selected transportation projects. During remarks at the annual Georgia Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast, Deal said: “I believe we have a number of projects around the state that are truly deserving of taxpayer dollars. This work is imperative to Georgia’s medium- and long-range economic development prospects. If the slate of projects in your region provides value, I want to ask you to vote and to help get out the word to your friends and family.”