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State Legislatures Continue to Charge Ahead with Transportation Investment

BY 
February 27, 2014

Lawmakers at the state level continue to seek transportation funding solutions.  Already early in 2014, several state legislatures are considering proposals to increase revenue or dedicate more funds to transportation projects. While a proposal to increase New Mexico’s gas tax by 3-cents per gallon failed to pass before the legislature adjourned this week, several other proposals around the country are still very much alive.  In Delaware, Gov. Jack Markell has proposed to raise the state gas tax by 10 cents per gallon, and the proposal also includes a provision that would automatically trigger future additional increases to keep pace with inflation. Idaho truckers are calling for an increase in the state’s gas tax to fund much needed road improvements. They have pitched the bill on grounds Idaho should get started on tackling an estimated annual $262 million backlog of road and bridge projects.

The Indiana state department of transportation wants lawmakers to approve an early release of $400 million saved in a special trust fund created last year which they hope to spend on highway projects. Meanwhile, legislation to allow Marion County (Indianapolis) and six surrounding counties to ask voters to approve local tax increases to fund transit continues to move through the legislature.  Iowa lawmakers have taken the first step to act on a proposal to incrementally increase the gas tax by a total of 10-cents per gallon over the next three years. The bill recently passed a House subcommittee and is likely to continue to receive serious consideration. In a new poll, more Michigan residents say they would rather see the state spend a nearly $1 billion budget surplus on roads than provide income tax relief as some lawmakers in Lansing want to do, The Detroit Free Press reported. Meanwhile, in remarks to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations committees this week, Gov. Rick Snyder, while recognizing the need for comprehensive transportation funding, recommended a one-time cash infusion from the general fund of $254 million in 2015 to shore up the state’s infrastructure.

In Minnesota, local leaders are urging the legislature to act this year.  A group of the state’s mayors and other city officials are call for state legislators to should invest in transportation this year because it is the key to economic competitiveness for all communities. More than 70 Minnesota counties have also adopted resolutions in support of a comprehensive transportation funding package in 2014. Proposals are pending in both the Missouri House and Senate that would implement a temporary 1-cent sales tax increase with the new revenues dedicated to transportation. And, in the past week in Utah, the state Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee voted unanimously to send legislation to the full Senate that would index the state gas tax to the per gallon price of gasoline.

These efforts obviously show the emerging importance of infrastructure investment at the state level. As one can see, these efforts include both Blue and Red states, proving that investment is indeed a bipartisan issue. 2014 is a critical year for transportation funding, and we hope these state efforts continue the momentum toward modernizing our nation’s infrastructure.

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