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State transportation funding plans
States are increasingly coming up with their own plans for raising additional transportation revenue — while hoping the federal government finds a way to continue being a strong partner in their efforts. View our full resource detailing considered and successful plans (current and recent) to raise revenue at the state level for transportation.
Lessons from Recent Successes
Learn more and read this February 2015 report chronicling the keys to success, featuring a closer look at six stories of successful attempts to raise state transportation funding.
Is raising the gas a political death sentence?
Well, not necessarily. Since 2012, state legislators have voted to increase gas taxes or other fees to raise new transportation revenue and voters have responded by sending almost all of the supportive members of both parties back to their state houses.
In the ten states that took direct votes* to raise new revenues, 98 percent of the legislators that voted for these bills and ran for re-election won their next primary, and 90 percent ultimately retained their seats. Could it be that voters are more supportive of raising revenue than we think?
States are finding it more and more difficult to find funding for transportation and other infrastructure. The 2012 MAP-21 law kept federal funding essentially flat, even as the lingering effects of the long recession have left states in desperate need of infrastructure repair and renovation. Meanwhile, gas taxes are not yielding what they once did, thanks to rising construction costs, growing fuel efficiency and a drop in miles driven per person. With no other solution in sight, some states have concluded they have little choice but to increase their gas taxes (or other fees) to maintain and build a 21st century transportation system.
In the last two years, at least ten states have done the “unthinkable” and either increased their gas tax or otherwise changed their revenue model to raise significant transportation funding through legislative action: Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.*
Transportation for America has kept a close eye on those votes at the state level to raise revenue and the subsequent response from voters in the elections that followed. So how do the supportive representatives fare when they face their electorate for the first time? Check the tables below for the data (click each tab).
*Ohio passed a budget including new bonding authority to be repaid by increased tolls and Delaware raised tolls on a single highway.
For much more on state transportation funding, visit our page tracking the current, recent and enacted state plans for raising revenue.
Election data and recent votes on revenue-raising legislation
Click a tab
After a full election cycle, how did supportive state legislators fare following a successful vote to raise transportation revenue at the state level? The overall summary:
- A total of 961 legislators in these ten states ran for re-election after voting yes on a measure to raise transportation revenues by some mechanism.
- 23 candidates lost their primary election, resulting in a 98 percent success rate in the primaries for those that voted yes and ran for re-election.
- 939 supportive legislators reached the general election*.
- 71 supportive candidates lost in the general election for a total of 868 supportive legislators retaining their seats.
- The total re-election rate for supportive legislators who ran is 868/961, or 90 percent.
*1 Independent candidate (Adam Greshin in Vermont) did not run in a primary due to lack of party registration.
|Republican "Yes" in General||Republican Lost||Democrat "Yes" in General||Democrat Lost||Other party "Yes" in General||Other Lost|
|New Hampshire 2014||13||0||147||38||0||0|
|Rhode Island 2014||8||0||89||7||0||0|
How did the supportive state legislators fare in their next primary following a successful vote to raise transportation revenue at the state level? Primaries are perhaps the best proxy for a direct response to the vote, and running unopposed can be as positive a signal as winning a contentious primary for a supportive legislator.
|State and year||Republican "Yes"
|Percentage of "yes" voters winning primary|
|Arkansas 2012 primaries||14||0||57||0||-||-||100%|
|Florida 2014 primaries||78||0||43||1||-||-||99.17%|
|Maryland 2014 primaries
Read our post on the MD results
|Massachusetts 2014 primaries||0||n/a||133||1||-||-||99.25%|
|New Hampshire 2014 primaries||14||1||147||2||-||-||98.13%|
|Pennsylvania 2014 primaries
Read our post on the results
|Rhode Island 2014 primaries||8||0||92||2||-||-||98%|
|Vermont 2014 primaries||15||1||86||0||1||0||99.02%|
|Vermont 2010 primaries||14||0||99||0||1||0||100%|
|Virginia 2014 primaries
Read our post on the VA results
|Wyoming 2014 primaries
Read our post on the results
This table represents a running tally of recent votes at the state level to raise taxes or fees for additional transportation revenue. (Increase in gas tax, switch to sales tax, raise oil fee, etc.) For more on the various state plans to raise transportation revenue, see our full resource on State Transportation Funding Plans.
|State and bill info||Total votes||Yes/No - Democrats||Yes/No - Republicans||Yes/No - Other|
|Arkansas (2011 - to send amendment to voters in 2012)
|84-35||68 / 1||16 / 34||0 / 0|
|160-0||60 / 0||100 / 0||0 / 0|
|103-83||103 / 30||0 / 53||0 / 0|
|158-38||157 / 5||1 / 33||0 / 0|
|New Hampshire (2014)
|208-150||186 / 8||22 / 142||0 / 0|
|155-92||66 / 45||89 / 47||0 / 0|
|74-55||0 / 54||74 / 1||0 / 0|
|Rhode Island (2014)
|107-5||98 / 2||9 / 2||0 / 1|
|134-35||106 / 0||17 / 25||11 / 10|
|128-42||104 / 9||18 / 31||6 / 2|
|64-35||28 / 4||35 / 31||1 / 0|
|53-36||9 / 1||44 / 36||0 / 0|
We’ve written a handful of blog posts covering the primary election results. You can find those here:
- Maryland: Follow-Up: Maryland pols raise their gas tax, voters respond supportively
- Virginia & Pennsylvania: In state elections, voters decline to punish pols for raising transportation taxes
- Wyoming: Wyoming voters reward elected leaders for raising transportation revenue
- Vermont, New Hampshire & Massachusetts: Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts follow the trend: voters support transportation revenue increases