Tag Archive for 'Highway Trust Fund'

ARTBA Reports: Voters Approve Nearly 90 Percent of Transportation Investment Ballot Measures

Voters in 19 states Nov. 5 sent a decisive message of support for transportation investment, approving almost 90 percent of 305 state and local transportation ballot measures.
 
In total, the 270 approved initiatives are expected to generate over $9.6 billion in one-time and recurring revenue, according to the analysis conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ (ARTBA-TIAC). Two measures in Texas are still pending.
 
“The ballot results are a great reminder infrastructure investment remains one of the few areas where red states, blue states, Republicans and Democrats can all come together,” ARTBA President Dave Bauer said.  “It should also demonstrate to lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the public will be on board for the passage of a long-term bill that significantly boosts highway and transit investment at the federal level.”
 
A complete report and an all-new interactive dashboard that filters results by state, mode, year and type of initiative are available at the Center’s flagship website: www.transportationinvestment.org.
 
The preliminary results reaffirm a decade-long trend of voters strongly supporting investments to maintain and improve their state or local transportation networks. Voters have approved 81 percent of nearly 2,000 transportation investment ballot measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC since 2010, including this year’s results.
 
“Public support for increasing infrastructure investment continues to help local governments and the transportation construction community improve safety, mobility and overall quality of life for residents as projects get underway,” said Carolyn Kramer, ARTBA-TIAC director. 
 
Voters in Maine overwhelmingly approved, by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin, a $105 million bond measure to support transportation infrastructure projects. The vote was Maine’s seventh successful transportation bond in eight years.
 
While transportation investment fared well nationwide, Washington state voters endorsed by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin a measure that reduces or repeals certain motor vehicle taxes and fees and removes the authority to impose certain new fees without their approval. This decision will cost the state nearly $4.3 billion in state and local transportation revenue over the next six years. 
 
Voters in Colorado rejected by a 55 percent to 45 percent vote a measure that would have permitted the state to retain excess tax collections in order to fund education and transportation.
 
The 305 measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC is the largest number ever for an odd-numbered, off-year election. Although historically most transportation measures are put on the ballot in even-numbered years when congressional or presidential elections drive higher turnout, an increasing number of measures are being considered by voters during odd-numbered years and primary elections.
 
There were 57 measures in 12 states that would raise over $20 million each, compared to 21 measures in 2017.  Of that total, 89 percent were approved.  Of 25 measures that would raise over $100 million, voters approved 92 percent.  This included a bond measure in Harris County, Texas to support transit expansions in Houston under the “Moving Forward Plan.”    
 
Of the local ballot measures, most (302 of 305) were property tax increases, primarily in Ohio (154) and Michigan (15), where many municipalities consistently ask voters to renew such assessments to pay for local roads and infrastructure repairs.
 
Additionally, local bond measures in Texas appeared on 25 ballots and received 96 percent approval, which will generate nearly $6 billion. Most of these measures established municipal utility districts.
 
The approved measures will support $7.7 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.9 billion in continued funding through tax extensions, renewals or protections. The timing of the market impact of these actions is difficult to project as revenue approved will last up to 25 years.
 
The Transportation Investment Advocacy Center ™ (TIAC) is a first-of-its kind, dynamic education program and Internet-based information resource designed to help private citizens, legislators, organizations and businesses successfully grow transportation investment at the state and local levels through the legislative and ballot initiative processes.

ARTBA Chairman Bob Alger Calls for Permanent Highway Trust Fund Revenue Solution at House Hearing

ARTBA Chairman Bob Alger Calls for Permanent Highway Trust Fund Revenue Solution at House Hearing

Association Also Voices Support for Transit Capital Investment Program

American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chairman Bob Alger today called on Congress to increase investment in the transit Capital Investment Program (CIG) but said it is best achieved in the broader context of legislation that provides a permanent revenue solution for the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF).

Alger, chairman of Connecticut-based Lane Construction Corporation, represented the association at a House Highways & Transit Subcommittee Hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Transit Administration’s Implementation of the Capital Investment Grant Program.”

While voicing support for the CIG program, Alger said, “Congress’s chronic failure to fix the Highway Trust Fund program threatens all federal surface transportation programs, including transit projects.”

The next Highway Trust Fund crisis looms shortly after the 2015 FAST Act surface transportation law expires in October 2020, Alger said. He noted Congress and previous administrations had initiated more than $140 billion dollars in General Fund transfers and budget gimmicks to prop up current federal highway and public transit investment levels.

While the CIG program is traditionally supported with general revenue dollars through the annual appropri­ations process, continued uncertainty or disruption to HTF program funding will adversely impact all federal surface transportation programs, including CIG. As an example, during the lead up to the FAST Act, such uncer­tainty about future federal investment and HTF solvency caused seven states in 2015 to delay roughly $1.6 billion in planned transportation projects, ARTBA said.

Alger highlighted three key options that Congress should consider to permanently fix the HTF: 1) raise the federal gasoline and diesel user fee rates; 2) apply a freight-based user fee to heavy trucks; and 3) institute a fee to ensure electric vehicle users also help pay for the system from which they benefit.

In a recent comprehensive 32-page report with legislative recommendations for reauthorization of the FAST Act, ARTBA called on Congress to boost investment in the CIG program beyond the current $2.3 billion annual levels.

Alger’s testimony also addressed the need for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to improve its regulatory and project delivery process so that projects can be completed on time and within budget. According to FTA’s Capital Cost Database, which compiles as-built costs for 54 federally funded transit projects, average costs for delivering these projects increases an average of five percent annually. As a result, a project that costs $100 million in 2019 would cost $163 million to build in 2029, or more than twice the rate of general inflation.

Another key factor that can keep transportation construction projects on schedule is the use of dispute resolution boards. Such entities should include members recommended by the project owner, contractor or industry and should set up quick and efficient timelines so that members can carefully follow its progress, Alger said.

Read Alger’s full written testimony.

Established in 1902, ARTBA is the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry in the Nation’s Capital. For more information visit artba.org

Watters Campaigns for Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act

Tim Watters, 2014 Chairman of the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) and President of Hoffman Equipment, is working hard to educate people about the importance of infrastructure investment. Watters is doing everything he can to encourage elected officials to take action and address long term needs for infrastructure funding across the country.
One of these measures is the proposed Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act.

The act would eliminate the volume cap on private activity bonds for water and sewage projects, which would be expected to increase private investments in the construction segment. It is anticipated that the passage of this act could generate as much as $6 billion in demand and could produce up to 1,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

“We are excited about this bi-partisan effort to address aging water infrastructure,” says Watters. “This bill will bring economic growth to the nation, create jobs in the construction industry and improve services around the country.”
The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act would bring small changes to the tax code in order to bring water infrastructure regulations in line with other infrastructure spending. An AED commissioned study shows that every dollar invested in water infrastructure generates $2.03 in tax savings over 20 years.

Another infrastructure crisis facing the country is the projected budget shortage of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The Congressional Budget Office originally projected the HTF would have ran out of money this summer, causing significant delays and work stoppages during the busy construction season. Congress recently passed a short-term package that would fund the HTF through next May, but a long-term solution is still needed.

At a recent press conference, organized by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-California), Watters said the looming crisis threatens 4,000 jobs at construction equipment dealerships across the country and 700,000 jobs in the broader construction industry.

“Every morning hundreds of thousands of hard-working men and women in the construction industry get up, go to work and build America’s transportation infrastructure. If they didn’t do their jobs, this country would come to a grinding halt,” Watters said.

Watters says that Boxer is someone who is working to address the problem, but he encourages people across the country to get in touch with their representatives to demand action. Watters demanded of legislators, “Do what we sent you here to do. Legislate. Govern. Give us a highway bill. And give us the infrastructure the U.S. economy needs to function.”

Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Tim Watters (to the right of Boxer) at a recent conference in Washington D.C.

Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Tim Watters (to the right of Boxer) at a recent conference in Washington D.C.

Tim Watters, 2014 Chairman of AED and President of Hoffman Equipment, speaking at a press conference in Cliffside Park, New Jersey.

Tim Watters, 2014 Chairman of AED and
President of Hoffman Equipment, speaking at a press conference in Cliffside Park, New Jersey.

ASCE Reports: CBO Shows Concerns For HTF

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts both accounts of the Highway Trust Fund will go broke sometime in FY 2015 unless Congress acts to shore up the fund that pays for surface transportation projects. According to a CBO chart obtained, the highway account will end FY 2012 with $8.7 billion and the transit account with $4.7 billion. The transit account could run dry in late 2014.

ASCE has long supported an increase in the gas tax to provide additional revenues for investment in surface transportation systems, a move that has been supported by many economists as consistent with reducing the federal budget deficit.  However, the political climate in Washington has not allowed a serious discussion on this matter in some time.

More information on the gas tax can be found hereThe CBO chart can be found here.