Election Day is one month away, and voters in states around the country will cast ballots on efforts that cover transportation.

October 2018

Keith Goble

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California

Voters in California will get the final word on whether they want to keep vehicle tax and fee increases imposed a year ago.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a year ago a 10-year, $52 billion transportation funding deal to benefit state and local roads, trade corridors, and public transit.

As of Nov. 1, 2017, the diesel tax increased by 20 cents and the gas tax was raised 12 cents. Other vehicle fees went up Jan. 1, including an increase from 4 percent to 5.75 percent in sales tax applied to diesel purchases.

The additional taxes and fees do not end there. Another 7.5-cent gas tax increase is scheduled in July 2019.

All tax and fee rates also are indexed to inflation to allow for increases in future years.

Proposition 6 on the fall ballot would nix the tax and fee increases. In addition, the state’s constitution would be amended to prevent any future increases without a statewide vote.

 

Colorado

Two competing measures on the fall ballot would fund transportation projects.

Proposition 109 would issue up to $3.5 billion in bonds to fund 66 road and bridge projects. Money could not be spent on mass transit projects.

Proposition 110 would increase the state’s 2.9 percent sales tax by 0.62 percent to 3.52 percent. Nearly half of the tax revenue would be dedicated to transportation work, including multimodal projects. Another 40 percent would be earmarked for direct distributions to local governments for their own transportation projects. The remaining

15 percent would be used for multimodal transportation work.

The tax increase would sunset in 20 years. It is expected to raise $767 million annually.

 

Connecticut

A question on the November ballot will ask voters whether to amend the state’s constitution to create a “lockbox” for transportation revenue.

Passage would prohibit the state legislature from spending money in the special transportation fund for anything other than transportation purposes.

The account is funded by the fuel tax, motor carrier road tax, petroleum products gross earnings tax, certain motor vehicle receipts and fees, motor vehicle-related fines, and a portion of state sales tax.

 

Florida

Voters throughout the state will decide whether they want to make it more difficult for their legislators to increase taxes.

State law now allows a simple majority of the Florida Legislature to enact new taxes or increase existing tax rates.

Amendment 5 on the fall ballot would require a two-thirds vote of legislators in both statehouse chambers to enact new taxes or increase existing tax rates. The change would amend the state’s constitution.

Passage of the amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot would require 60 percent approval by voters.

The rule would be applied to taxes that include sales, fuel, alcohol and driver’s licenses.

The requirement would not be applied to fees or taxes collected by a county, municipality, school board or special district. Taxes or fees increased during times of emergency would also be exempt.

 

Louisiana

Amendment 4 on the statewide ballot would end the dedication of revenue from the Transportation Trust Fund to state police for traffic control.

The fund was setup to collect revenue from all state fuel taxes. Available revenue is used for road and bridge work, a stateside flood-control program, ports, airports, transit, state police, and the Parish Transportation Fund for parish governments.

If approved by voters, the state constitution would be amended to end the practice of moving funds to state police.

 

Maine

The fall ballot will ask voters whether to approve millions in bonds for transportation uses.

Question 3 will ask voters about a plan to fund

$106 million in road and bridge work, and other transportation purposes throughout the state.

Passage of the transportation bond initiative would result in $80 million in general obligation bonds for construction and maintenance of highways and bridges. The state’s ports, harbors, transit and freight rail, and bicycle and pedestrian trails would receive $20 million. Another $5 million would be applied to culvert upgrades.

The money is used to support the Maine Department of Transportation’s work plan.

 

Missouri

Proposition D on the fall ballot allows voters to decide whether they want to tax themselves to help cover transportation-related costs.

Passage of the ballot question would increase the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon fuel tax by a dime to 27 cents.

Approval also would authorize the creation of the Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund. The fund would be used to address traffic problems that affect the movement of freight.

Passage of the proposition would increase the fuel tax rate by 2.5-cent increments over four years.

Taxes on alternative fuels would also be raised to 27 cents by 2026.

The state’s fuel tax pays for road and bridge work, but it also supports the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Approval of the ballot question would also result in new revenue from the tax increase being routed into a fund dedicated to troopers.

When fully implemented, the state estimates the tax rate increase would raise $293 million annually for DOT-operated roads and $128 million for local roads.

 

Oregon

Measure 104 is a constitutional amendment that would require a three-fifths supermajority for legislation to make changes in taxes and fees. Specifically, the changes to tax expenditures would apply to exemptions, credits and deductions. In addition, tax and fee creation or increases must also have supermajority approval.

 

Utah

Opinion Question 1 on the state’s ballot will ask voters whether to increase fuel taxes for a nontransportation purpose.

The state now collects 29.4 cents per gallon on fuel purchases to help cover transportation costs. A portion of revenue from the state’s general fund – $600 million annually – also is applied to roads.

The nonbinding question will get voters’ opinion about putting money ordinarily reserved for road use instead toward education. Specifically, the revenue would be used to help cover costs to increase salaries for teachers and support staff.

A portion of new revenues also would be applied to local roads.

To help minimize the hit to Utah residents’ pocketbooks, state property taxes would be frozen for the next five years. In addition, personal and corporate income taxes would be lowered from 5 percent to 4.95 percent.

 

Washington

Voters will decide this fall whether to impose a first-of-its-kind fee or tax on carbon emitters.

Approval of Initiative 1631 would impose a fee on carbon content of fossil fuels sold or used in the state and electricity generated or imported into the state.

Starting in 2020, the fee would be levied on the largest carbon emitters. The fee is described as an aggressive policy to combat climate change that charges polluters for the right to emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The carbon fee would start at $15 a metric ton of carbon. It is estimated the levy would add about 14 cents to each gallon of fuel. The fee would increase annually by $2 per ton of carbon emission, plus the rate of inflation.

According to estimates, the levy would generate about $2.2 billion in its first five years.

The revenue would be invested into a new fund to support projects designed to accelerate the state’s transition away from fossil fuels. LL

Prepass
Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.