Government Issues

Voters approved $40.9B for transportation in 2018, study says

Posted on January 11, 2019

Voters passed 142 transportation ballot measures last year, 77% of the 185 measures considered. Graphic: Eno Center for Transportation
Voters passed 142 transportation ballot measures last year, 77% of the 185 measures considered. Graphic: Eno Center for Transportation

Voters across the country approved nearly $41 billion in new investment for transportation at the ballot box last year, according to the Eno Center for Transportation’s analysis of the 2018 transportation ballot measures. “Transportation at the Ballot Box 2018,” Eno’s new issue brief, analyzes the hundreds of ballot measures considered by voters in 2018 and provides breakdowns by mode, identifier, and state.

“Against the backdrop of a midterm election cycle that had major political ramifications for the United States, voters also played a critical role in shaping their communities by casting their votes on investments and other decisions about transportation,” said Robert Puentes, president/CEO of Eno. “Our analysis found that voters have a tremendous appetite to fix their infrastructure and expand transportation opportunities, but that certain kinds of measures had more success at the ballot box than others.”

Voters passed 142 transportation ballot measures last year, 77% of the 185 measures considered. All told, $40.9 billion was approved, 58 percent of the $70.7 billion at stake. (Those numbers do not include the 327 local road millage renewals on the ballot last year in Michigan and Ohio: those pass overwhelmingly and are routine in those communities, thus our analysis considers them separately.)

Key findings of the 2018 ballot measures include:

Mode. Voters approved more ballot measures to raise money for roads than for any other mode, passing 80 of the 113 road measures. However, the transit-specific measures that passed will provide more new funding in dollars than the road-specific measures ($9.3 billion for transit vs. $7.5 billion for roads).

Identifier. Most of the approved measures will raise money through bonds (48 measures) or property tax increases (40). However, the sales tax measures that passed (34) will raise far more money ($31.7 billion, compared to $3.4 billion from bonds and $640 million from property taxes). Transportation-specific user fees like tolls and vehicle registration fees were scarce, as were fuel taxes.

State. Thirty-four states considered at least one transportation measure in 2018, concentrated in the West where ballot measures are historically more common. Voters in Florida approved far more funding for transportation ($24.4 billion) than voters in every other state combined, thanks to penny sales tax increases in Hillsborough and Broward counties.

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