News & Media
Vol. 11, No. 1February 15, 2013
In This Issue …
- Registration Open for 2013 TIC Conference!
- Session Proposal Deadline Extended for TIC Conference
- How Successful Was 2012 for Transit Referenda?
- Transportation Finance Proposals in the States
Register Now for 2013 TIC Conference!
The 2013 Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference will be held June 23 - 26 in Atlanta, GA, at the Loews Atlanta Hotel. Last year, we saw 79% of transit ballot measures approved by voters. This astounding success rate is leading a growing number of us to ask how we can replicate this method of supporting transportation investment and choice in our own communities. We invite all interested participants -- from transit advocates to campaign professionals, elected officials to public agency staff -- to attend this biennial event dedicated to understanding and evaluating the role of ballot initiatives in transportation policy and finance.
This year's event includes a pre-conference grassroots workshop, three days of interactive sessions, and plenty of networking opportunities to share your experiences and learn from peers in other communities.
TIC Session Proposal Deadline Extended
Interested in doing more than just attending the next Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference? Consider becoming a sponsor or submitting a session proposal. If you have a case study from a recent campaign or coalition-building experience, new research, or effective strategies for transit advocates, we invite and encourage you to submit a proposal. The deadline for submissions has been extended until next Friday, February 22.
For more information on sponsorship opportunities or submitting a session proposal, visit us at www.cfte.org/initiatives-conferences.
2012 Success, 2013 Outlook
Last year was a big year for transit investment at the ballot box. Voters approved 79% of the 62 measures that appeared on ballots between March and December 2012. This was also the most transit measures in a single year since CFTE began monitoring in 2000. With major wins from Michigan to Baton Rouge to the Carolinas, many local and regional transit projects moved forward with voter support.
Significant losses did occur in Los Angeles and Atlanta, reminding us that each campaign faces unique and often unexpected hurdles. The story out of Los Angeles was especially frustrating as the campaign garnered more than 65% of the vote yet lost because of the state's supermajority requirement. The referendum in Atlanta received a lot of media attention, unfortunately leading many to ask if new financing for transportation is something that voters will support. However, with a long-term success rate of 72% (between 2000-2012), we know that voters are willing to support investment when the transportation and economic benefits are clear.
Traditionally, off-cycle years have seen fewer ballot measures and 2013 appears to be no exception. Perrysburg, OH, and Kalamazoo County, MI, are each taking property tax measures to voters in May. Jackson County, MO, is considering placing a one cent sales tax for buses, trails, and commuter rail on the ballot in August. For many other communities, this year's campaign is to get legislative or local approval to go to voters in 2014 and 2015.
For more information on current and past ballot measures, visit www.cfte.org/elections
Transportation Finance in the States:
New Funding Proposals for the New Year
Governors and legislators in several states have kicked off 2013 with proposals for increasing transportation investment. Proposals range from sales and gas tax increases to increased vehicle registration fees and new local taxing authority.Unique among this year's proposals are suggestions of eliminating state gas taxes or decreasing the federal gas tax in an effort to devolve infrastructure financing authority to the states.
Governor Butch Otter said in his State of the State message that he supports a broad local option tax, which had previously only been allowed in resort cities.
Legislation is making it's with through the Indiana House that would allow Marion and Hamilton Counties (Indianapolis) to go to voters for an income tax increase to support expansion of public transit. Efforts to get enabling authority to improve transit in this region are many years in the making.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has proposed allowing counties to impose their on 5 cents a gallon gas tax to support local roads and transit. His proposal also includes a 3 percent statewide sales tax on gasoline purchases. Governor Martin O'Malley has been meeting with lawmakers specifically to achieve consensus on a transportation funding plan.
Governor Deval Patrick released a comprehensive transportation funding plan designed to generate over $1 billion annually for the states roads and transit systems. Options included increases to sales, gas or income taxes, a fee on vehicle miles traveled, and increased fees on heavily-polluting vehicles.
Governor Tom Corbett has proposed a 25-cent per gallon increase to the state gas tax over the next five years. This would generate $1.8 billion annually for transportation projects. Most of the funding would go to repair structurally deficient roadways and bridges, but state's largest transit system would also receive extra funding.
The Utah Senate is moving forward a bill asking Congress to lower the federal gas tax so that the states can increase theirs and have more direct control over transportation funding. A similar bill may be introduced in Congress, but is unlikely to get much traction.
Governor Robert F. McDonnell proposed a sweeping plan to raise $3.1 billion over five-years for its cash-strapped transportation system. The proposal included an increase in vehicle registration fees, an increase in the state's sales tax and revenue from the implementation of an internet sales tax. Most intriguing about this proposal was not the $100 charge on drivers of alternative-fuel cars, but the elimination of the state gas tax to reduce the overall tax burden.
This week, a committee in the Virginia Senate approved a compromise bill that increases the state gas tax, transfers more general funds to transportation and gives certain local jurisdictions authority to go to voters for a 1 cent sales tax.
A state transportation commission has proposed a 5-cent per gallon increase in the state's gas tax, an increase in heavy truck registration fees, and an increase in vehicle registration fees based on miles traveled. Combined, the measures would provide an additional $480 million annually over 10 years for the state's transportation system.