News & Media
Vol. 4, No. 9July 12, 2006
In This Issue …
- Gov. Bush Vetoes Florida Rental Car Tax Proposal
- SMART Asks Voters to Renew Property Tax
- TABOR Ballot Measures Threaten Transit
- Funding Available for Transportation Equity Research Program Grants
- Transportation Tax Impasse Resolved in Hawaii
- DOT Issues Proposed SAFETEA - LU Planning Rules
Gov. Bush Vetoes Florida Rental Car Tax Proposal
BILL WOULD HAVE AUTHORIZED LOCAL VOTES TO RAISE FEE
Despite support from many leading Republicans in the state legislature, Florida Governor Jeb Bush vetoed legislation that would have allowed Florida counties to vote in a referendum on raising rental car fees. The additional revenue would have been dedicated to transportation projects and congestion mitigation. The idea had received strong, bipartisan backing from Orlando and other communities in central Florida . As many as five counties indicated interest in pursuing a referendum this year had the bill been signed into law. After considerable lobbying from out-of-state, anti-tax advocates, Gov. Bush vetoed the bill characterizing it as "taxation without representation" since the levy would largely be paid by visiting tourists. Supporters, including the business community and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, argued that the funding would help offset congestion and other infrastructure costs generated by tourism and was needed to maintain the region's quality of life.
For full story and other news updates visit CFTE's homepage.
SMART Asks Voters to Renew Property Tax
VOTES KEY TO BUS SERVICE IN THREE DETROIT-AREA COUNTIES
On August 8, 2006, three counties in metropolitan Detroit will decide whether to renew a trasit millage that supports the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). SMART, which provides bus service in the suburbs, is asking Wayne , Oakland and Macomb counties to put its 0.6-mill property tax renewal on the Aug. 8 primary ballot. The millage, which generates about $50 million annually and represents about half the agency's budget, expires Nov. 30, 2006. SMART wants to renew the millage for four years. Twenty-two communities in Oakland County , 26 in Wayne County and all of Macomb County participate in the millage. In 2004, fourteen Michigan counties sought voter approval for property tax increases dedicated to transportation. Twelve of the fourteen initiatives in 2004 were successful. Some suburban communities have chosen not to participate in the millage and get no bus service from SMART, however, other communities in the region are considering joining the bus system. The Walled Lake City Council is expected to consider switching to SMART.
2006 Election Results and News
TABOR Ballot Measures Threaten Transit
'TAXPAYER BILL OF RIGHTS' ADVOCATES TARGET 10 STATES
'Taxpayer Bill of Rights' ballot measures threaten to place tight caps on state and local revenues. These caps would limit spending based on a formula linked to population growth and inflation. Experience with TABOR in Colorado , the only state thus far to adopt the idea, demonstrates that investment in transportation and other infrastructure suffers significantly. Voters in Colorado passed a temporary repeal of TABOR last year. However, the Colorado experience hasn't slowed efforts to move the measure ahead in other states. TABOR has already qualified for the ballot in Maine and Rhode Island . The Rhode Island , however, is only a non-binding advisory vote. Petitions are awaiting approval in Montana , and signatures will be filed this week in Michigan , Nebraska , and Oregon. Legal challenges have at least temporarily derailed TABOR efforts in Missouri and Oklahoma with court proceedings underway in Nevada.
Funding Available for Transportation Equity Research Program Grants
NEW EQUITY PROGRAM ESTABLISHED IN SAFETEA-LU
The Federal Transportation Administration is soliciting proposals for up to three cooperative agreements for research to assess the impacts that transportation planning and investment operations have on minority and low-income populations under the Transportation Equity Research Program (TERP). The major goal of the TERP is for research and demonstration activities that focus on the impacts that transportation planning, investment, and operations have on low-income and minority populations that are transit dependent. These cooperative agreements are four year awards. The total available funding for the first year is for $245,000. Subsequent funding is authorized at $250,000 per year in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act--A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU); actual funding will be based on annual appropriations. The grant proposals are due Monday August 7, 2006.
Please visit the FTA website for additional information.
Transportation Tax Impasse Resolved in Hawaii
FUNDING KEY TO HONOLULU MASS TRANSIT
On January 1, 2007, a new .5 percent general excise tax for transportation is slated to take effect in Hawaii . In recent months, state and local officials have feuded over responsibility for collecting and administering the tax. That impasse now appears to be at end with an agreement for the City of Honolulu to pay $5 million to the state to cover the costs of a private firm who upgrade the state's tax collection system. The move, still subject to final approval by the Honolulu City Council, paves the way for the tax to begin on time. The tax is expected to generate $150 million annually. Of the total amount collected, the state will received 10 percent while the reminder will be used for new transit service in the Honolulu region. The funding is considered critical to gaining final approval for federal transit funding.
For full story and other news updates visit CFTE's homepage.
DOT Issues Proposed SAFETEA - LU Planning Rules
COMMENTS DUE BY SEPTEMBER 7
Last month the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration jointly issued a proposed revision of regulations governing the development of metropolitan transportation plans and programs for urbanized areas, state transportation plans and programs and the regulations for Congestion Management Systems (Federal Transit Administration 49 CFR Part 613). This proposed revision results from the recent passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) which also incorporates changes initiated in its predecessor legislation, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). The proposed revisions deal with a wide spectrum of issues regarding state and metropolitan transportation planning including public involvement in the planning process, the metropolitan certification process, public involvement in the statewide transportation plans. All interested parties are invited to submit comments regarding this proposed rulemaking until September 7, 2006.
More information can be found at the Department of Transportation.