States Consider Transportation Funding Alternatives

Earlier today, I blogged about this week’s activities in the Nation’s Capital on federal surface transportation legislation. But it’s also been a busy couple of weeks in state governments with regards to transportation funding initiatives. Here are some updates.

  • Iowa: The leaders of the Governor’s Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Commission urged lawmakers this week to take action in this legislative session to commit more resources to road building, the Sioux City Journal reported. But Republican leaders in the legislature say they don’t see support for raising the state gas tax this year, according to The Des Moines Register. Meanwhile, Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino has presented Gov. Terry Branstad a list of $50 million in proposed savings and efficiencies the department could implement to provide more dollars to upgrade the state’s highways and bridges, The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette reports.
  • Maryland: Gov. Martin O’Malley has proposed a 6 percent sales tax on gas to pay for infrastructure projects, The Washington Post reported. Now a group of 22 state senators are trying to make the tax more salable with a proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent future raids on the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund to balance the state’s general fund budget. The Maryland Reporter has that story.
  • Massachusetts: Boston Mayor Tom Menino recently endorsed an increase in the state gas tax to prevent cuts in commuter-rail service, The Sentinel and Enterprise reports. Gov. Deval Patrick, who sought a 19-cent increase in the gas tax during his first term (the legislature rejected it), has said he no longer sees the gas tax as a long-term solution to the state’s transportation problems. And The (Springfield) Republican reported that a place-specific tax to fund transportation projects was among the ideas raised at an oversight hearing last month.
  • Michigan: A 17-bill package introduced by House Republicans would shift the state gas tax from the pump to the wholesale price of fuel and increase it nine cents a gallon. Vehicle registration fees would go up as well as part of a proposal to raise more than $1 billion to fix roads and bridges. The bills closely follow a plan laid out last October by Gov. Rick Snyder. The Detroit News has more.
  • Missouri: State Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith recently talked about how the Show-Me-State might move forward with plans to rebuild Interstate 70 using tolls, the Kansas City Star reported.
  • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a new Tappan Zee Bridge in New York City could make use of the state’s newly acquired authority to use the process known as design-build, Bloomberg reports.
  • Pennsylvania: Democratic lawmakers are still calling on Gov. Tom Corbett to act on the recommendations of his Transportation Funding Advisory Commission in advance of the governor’s second budget address next week. He’s expected to address the issue in his Feb. 7 budget proposal. Central Penn Business Journal has more.
  • Texas: Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton this week suggested higher annual motor vehicle registration fees in coming years could raise new revenue for roads, the (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram reports.
  • Virginia: A House of Delegates subcommittee this week voted down a series of legislative proposals for higher taxes to pump new revenue into Virginia’s transportation system, The Virginian-Pilot reports. Meanwhile, Gov. Bob McDonnell has announced additional components of his 2012 agenda for transportation. And the Commonwealth recently closed its first major transportation-funding deal with the newly created Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank: a $412 million bridge project in Chesapeake.
  • Washington: It looks like Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed $1.50 fee on every barrel of oil produced in the state to help pay for road projects doesn’t have the momentum to pass the legislature, the Associated Press reports. The Daily Herald last week reported on the “bumpy reception” the governor’s plan received in initial public hearings.

Video Presentation Online

I had the opportunity to give a presentation two weeks ago at a conference here in Lexington hosted by the organization Kentuckians for Better Transportation. The presentation, “Road Funding Alternatives: What Other States (Besides Kentucky) Are Doing,” is now up on YouTube. You can watch it here.

Economic Report Looks at Funding Roads & Bridges

I also have an article in the latest edition of the 2012 Kentucky Annual Economic Report, which is put out by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky. The article, “Financing Roads & Bridges: New Funding Solutions May Be Required,” can be found on page 33 of the report which you can read here.