Infrastructure Wins on the Ballot

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While states still count votes to determine the Presidency and control of the Senate, what has become clear is that infrastructure investment remains a priority for voters. After some uncertainty over whether the COVID-19 pandemic would affect plans for infrastructure investment ballot measures, many states and localities did stick with their plans to bring many of these initiatives before voters on Election Day.  As has historically been the case, a majority of state and local infrastructure measures did pass this week, once again demonstrating that voter’s support making investments that will improve our infrastructure, grow the economy, and improve quality of life. In fact, in the transportation sector 94 percent of the 322 ballot measures voted on this week passed, which will generate $14 billion for projects in the upcoming years.

Notable measures that passed this year include:

Transportation

  • In Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment that will permanently extend the state’s 0.5% sales tax for roads and highways. The measure is expected to raise nearly $300 million annually, of which 70 percent would be directed to state highways, and 15 percent each for county and city transportation.
  • Austin, Texas  and 8.75 cent property tax measure to help fund a major expansion of Austin’s public transportation system, officially referred to as Project Connect. The revenue from Proposition A will be used as the local match for the initial $7.1 billion investment in Project Connect, of which 45 percent is expected to be covered through Federal funding.

Water and Environment

  • Denver, Colorado voters approved a 0.25% sales tax on goods in order to fund infrastructure investments and incentives that will make buildings and streets more energy-efficient. The tax is being labeled a climate change sales tax and is expected to bring in $36 million annually.
  • Michigan approved an amendment to the state constitution that changes how revenue in the state’s park related funds can be spent and would require at least 20 percent of annual interest and earning from the State Parks Endowment Fund to be spent on state park improvements.

Other

  • Georgia approved a constitutional amendment to dedicate any tax or fee revenue to the public purpose for which the taxes or fees were imposed.
  • Georgia’s Gwinnett County approved a penny sales and use tax to raise revenue for school infrastructure and modernizing school technology. This measure is expected to raise $985 million over five years.

Unfortunately, not all measures passed with notable exceptions including:

  • Georgia’s Gwinnett County failing to pass a 30 year, one percent local option sales tax. This measure was expected to raise nearly $13 billion in new investment for 82 major public transit projects.
  • Portland, Oregon voters also rejected  a payroll tax of up to 0.75 percent on employers with more than 25 employees to fund 150 transportation projects along 17 primary travel corridors.
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