T4America Blog

News, press releases and other updates

Refreshed T4America bill tracker for following state transportation funding and policy progress

While at least 23 states have raised new funding for transportation at the state level since 2012, there’s a renewed focus on the underlying policies to make the most of limited infrastructure dollars. Which states are proposing to change to how those dollars are spent? Which states are working to create more transparency and build more public trust in transportation spending?

For the last few years, we’ve been closely tracking the states attempting to raise new transportation funding. Now, we’ve adding a new resource to keep up with the states that are trying to change the underlying policies for spending those dollars. Are any states following the lead of others outlined in our last report, Twelve Innovations in Transportation Policy that States Should Consider?

Visit our refreshed state policy bill tracker to see current information about the states attempting to raise new funding in 2016, states attempting to reform how those dollars are spent, and states taking unfortunate steps in the wrong direction on policy.

Also, bookmark our new hub for all state policy and funding related resources. Past and current reports, bill trackers, and other helpful information for getting engaged at the state level with transportation funding and policy.

Want to know more about transportation demand management?

Join a webinar to learn how policies can leverage the private sector to manage transportation demand.

Join us on Friday, February, 26, 2015 at 1:00 PM EST to learn from two national experts on how states can get more out of their existing transportation networks by better managing travel demand. Patrick Sullivan of MassCommute explains how Massachusetts supports local transportation management and Brian Lagerberg of Washington State DOT shows the benefits of that state’s Commute Trip Reduction program (a policy we highlighted in our recent policy guidebook).

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State update

Many legislatures are already wrapping up; others are just getting started for the year. Here’s a brief roundup of important transportation news coming out of state capitols over the last few weeks.

Maryland legislative leadership releases reform package

Leadership in the Maryland General Assembly called for new accountability in transportation project selection and rolled out a package of transportation reform bills. The Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act (HB 1013/S 0908) defines state goals and measures to score and choose projects, helping to program scarce transportation dollars more objectively. Also included in the package is a bill to create a board of local appointees to oversee the state transit agency, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).

New tolls to fund bridge repair in Rhode Island

Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo (D) signed a bill to raise new revenue for maintaining and repairing bridges across the state by increasing new tolls for big trucks traveling the state’s interstates. The measure will add tolls of up to $20 on trucks crossing the state and is expected to raise $45 million annually to be directed to bridge repair. Rhode Island sits near the bottom of the list for greatest bridge repair needs, so legislators were wise to direct new funding to this growing demand and they may have landed a new, politically palatable revenue source. The trucking industry has voiced opposition, however, and legal challenges may be coming.

Mississippi sees an opportunity to raise state gas taxes

Mississippi legislators are discussing proposals to raise new revenue for transportation. The state’s fuel tax rate has not been changed in twenty-nine years and the state DOT reports that they need $526 million more annually to maintain and expand the state’s roads and bridges. With gas prices down, legislators think this may be an opportunity to hike fuel taxes without facing political consequences.

What’s next in New Jersey?

Legislators in New Jersey continue to look for ways to shore up a near-bankrupt state transportation fund. The state’s gas tax rate is currently the second lowest in the country and the state has heavily relied on bonding for the program. An astonishing 100 percent of gas tax revenues now collected are used to pay down the debt and costs of past projects. Without new money the program will go bankrupt when it hits its debt cap in July. In January the legislature recommended a constitutional amendment that would dedicate all fuel tax revenue to transportation projects. That measure will go to voters for approval this November. Transportation leaders hoped Gov. Chris Christie (R) would be more open to negotiations on this issue since suspending his presidential campaign, but his budget proposal offered no new revenue and he has dismissed that the impending bankruptcy even registers as a crisis.

Holding out for reform in South Carolina

South Carolina Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) is continuing a filibuster to block any new funding for transportation until the legislature passes reforms to the state transportation commission. Sen. Davis wisely notes that opportunities to completely reexamine the ways the state spends money on transportation projects are rare and legislators should not simply keep up existing processes and outdated priorities for another generation.

Local funding

Paying for free parking

Washington’s House transportation committee considered a bill to allow local governments and transportation districts to levy fees on free parking spaces in order to fund transportation. These local governments can already charge a fee on paid parking, so this proposal introduces equity for parking fees and also may serve as a subtle disincentive to the spread of free parking that encourage more trips and greater traffic congestion.

Local funding for transit

Georgia’s senate transportation committee has advanced a bill to allow metro Atlanta counties to raise new money for the MARTA regional transit system through a voter-decided, 0.5% sales tax increase. The bill is expected to be heard by the full Senate soon.

Keep up on these bills and many more on our refreshed bill tracker. If you are working on a bill we haven’t seen that should be added to the chart, let us know!