News & Media
Vol. 7, No.1March 03, 2009
In This Issue …
- Election Outlook: 2009 Transit Ballot Measures
- California Legislature Eliminates Transit Funding
- State Legislatures Consider Transportation Funding
- Register for the 2009 Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference
Election Outlook: 2009 Transit Ballot Measures
MICHIGAN COMMUNITIES ON MAY 5th BALLOT
Two Michigan communities have already scheduled property tax increases for the May 5 election. Voters in the communities of Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker and Wyoming will be voting on a 0.16-mill increase to support The Rapid's new 10-mile bus rapid transit line. Kalamazoo County voters will be asked to support a 0.4-mill tax increase to support Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority. Voters did not support a similar countywide measure on the ballot last November.
The Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce came out in support of the tax but with the caveat that bus fares are also increased by 15 cents--to $1.50. The Chamber also has expressed support for a separate tax to appear on the November ballot to raise the property tax by 0.60-mills for just residents of the city of Kalamazoo.
California Legislature Eliminates Transit Funding
FARE INCREASES AND SERVICE CUTS EXPECTED
In late February, Governor Schwarzenegger and California lawmakers diverted funding earmarked for transit agencies to help close the budget deficit. The State Transit Assistance (STA) budget ended up at $306 million--$663 million less than transit agencies around the state believed they were due under a voter-approved funding formula. This will have major impacts on agencies across the state because STA is the sole source of state funding for transit operations. These critical funds help transit agencies pay for fuel, maintenance, and workers to operate the state's trains, buses, and ferries.
The approved budget calls for $536 million in transit cuts, achieved through the cancellation of the remaining $230 million due to transit agencies from the September budget's STA allotment of $306 million and the eradication of the entire $306 million in fiscal year 2009-10. The $306 million was established as a baseline figure after $1.8 billion in current-year transit-dedicated funds were diverted to fill non-transit holes in the General Fund.
Joshua Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association, reported that transit agencies throughout the state have already enacted or contemplated a combination of fare increases and service reductions to cope with the $3 billion in state funding that has been raided in just the last two years alone, and warned that more such drastic measures are on the way. "We will see fare increases. We will see service cuts. We will see layoffs," he predicted. "I can say that with certainty simply because we've already seen those things happening even before the state apparently decided to abandon its responsibility to fund public transportation.
State Legislatures Consider Transportation Legislation
LEGISLATION IN GEORGIA MAY ASK VOTERS TO DECIDE ON TRANSPORTATION SALES TAX
CFTE has also been tracking a half dozen state legislative measures that if approved, will create new regional transit districts and authorize the placement of financing measures on local and statewide ballots. Many state legislatures are scheduled to end their sessions by late spring, so if any of these measures are going to move, it is likely to happen by the summer. This could mean measures on the November ballot or sometime in 2010 in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and North Carolina.
In Georgia, a vote is likely to have to wait until 2010, but lawmakers are working on this issue during the current legislative session. Last month, the Georgia Senate approved legislation that would allow voters in metro Atlanta to decide on a penny sales tax for transportation. Other counties in the state would also have the option to approve sales taxes alone or in multi-county votes. In the House, a bill has been introduced that would allow a statewide vote on a penny sales tax increase for transportation, without giving individual counties they ability to opt-out.
2009 Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference
REGISTRATION FOR TIC 2009 IS NOW OPEN!
The Center for Transportation Excellence is gearing up for its biannual Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference. This year's conference will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah from May 31 - June 2, 2009. TIC brings together transit agencies, local officials, transportation supporters, advocates, and ballot measure campaign professionals to get the latest information on transportation ballot measures.
Although transportation measures have traditionally done well at the ballot, many communities are uncertain of how to approach voters with local transportation's need for financial support. This year's conference will take an in-depth look at how to pass initiatives and build support for transportation investment in the midst of the current economy.
The TIC Conference features leading national transportation experts, seasoned campaign professionals, and lots of opportunities for interaction and dialogue. Sessions will detail the latest in financial trends, their impact on transportation and how to translate this knowledge into a successful ballot measure.
This year's sessions include:
Pitching Your Ballot Measure in Tough Economic Times
Turning Values into Votes through Regional Visioning
Campaign Tactics: Using New Technologies in Your Campaign
The Big Picture - Economic Trends, the Recession & Your Ballot Measure
Building the Transit Vote Coalition
Register Now or Learn how you can become a Sponsor