By Kerry O'Hare, Vice President and Director of Policy, Building America's Future
November 4, 2016
As I have blogged about before, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both talked about the importance of infrastructure during their campaigns and have offered plans as to how they would revitalize and modernize America’s infrastructure. Each candidate has also promised to pursue his or her plan during the first 100 days after being sworn in as president. While strong leadership at the federal level is critical to moving a long-term infrastructure plan forward, it is important not to overlook the significant actions at the state and local levels that are underway or on the ballot right now.
After waiting for an eternity for action from policymakers in Washington, governors, state legislators and mayors have grown impatient and are taking charge, raising their own revenue to fund critical infrastructure programs. Since 2013, seventeen states have increased their gas tax so that important road, bridge and transit projects can move forward. These increases have come from red states like Georgia and Utah, blue states like Maryland and Vermont and states like New Jersey with a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature.
And not all the action is happening in state house. Communities across America are getting the opportunity to vote on ballot initiatives that raise revenue through sales or property taxes, bonding or other fees. In some states, voters have supported initiatives to safeguard transportation revenues for transportation-only purposes. In Illinois this year, voters will consider the Safe Roads Amendment to the state constitution to do just that.
In 2016, communities in 25 states will vote on a record number of ballot measures relating to infrastructure – 77 initiatives in all. The success rate for such ballot initiatives in years past has been very high. According to the Center for Transportation Excellence, from 2000 to 2015, 71 percent of these types of initiatives were approved at the ballot box.
So, when you go to the polls on November 8th, take a close look at the ballot – you just may have the opportunity to invest in your own community by supporting an infrastructure ballot measure.