The NCSL Blog


By Kevin Pula

A lot of well-deserved attention has been given to the more than 6,000 state legislative races that will be decided by voters on Nov. 6.

Traffic on the 110 Freeway. An initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot would repeal increased gas taxes and a vehicle fee aimed at repairing California roads and bridges. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)But as any loyal NCSL Blog reader knows, ballots in many states will contain much more than a selection of candidates. One of the perennial policy topics affected by ballot measures is transportation, specifically transportation funding. Last year, 82 percent of the more than 200 state and local transportation measures were passed across the country.

This year we’ll be keeping a close eye on three states—California, Colorado and Missouri—where results in all three will be viewed as a litmus test for voter’s opinions on raising taxes for transportation.

California Proposition 6 challenges the backbone of a 2017 transportation funding package by allowing voters to repeal the 12-cent fuel tax increase and new vehicle fees created by CA SB 1 (2017).

Earlier this year, the Missouri Legislature voted to increase the state fuel tax by 10 cents as part of HB 1460 (2018). However, voters will be the final arbiters of Proposition D due to constitutional requirements for such tax increases.

Colorado voters will have a more complicated decision to make. Proposition 110 asks voters to increase the state sales tax and dedicate the new revenues to transportation as well as approve bonds guaranteed by the new funds. A “competing” measure, Proposition 109, similarly seeks voter approval for transportation bonds, but includes no new revenue mechanisms. Voters may approve neither, one or both measures.

Other statewide measures around the country include:

  • Two states will consider the issue of transportation revenue diversions. Connecticut’s Amendment 1 would create a revenue “lockbox” that would limit the use of transportation revenues for other purposes. Louisiana voters will determine (Amendment No. 4) whether the transportation trust fund should be used to fund the state police (for further context, see NCSL’s 2017 report on state patrol funding).
  • Maine’s Question 3 seeks voter approval for $106 million in bonds to be used as match for federal funds. Bond revenues would be used for highways, bridges, ports and other transportation infrastructure. Similar measures have passed in five of the last six elections.
  • Utah voters will answer a nonbinding opinion question measuring their support for a special fuels tax increase to support education and local roads.

Visit NCSL’s Ballot Measure Database for further details on these and dozens of non-transportation related measures.

While a relatively modest number of states will have transportation measures on the statewide ballots, many millions of Americans will be determining transportation policy at the local level. “Voters in 25 states will decide on over 250 transportation ballot measures, totaling over $55 billion in potential investment,” according to the Eno Center for Transportation. To view local measures, visit Eno’s own transportation ballot measure database.

And be sure to visit NCSL’s StateVote after Nov. 6 for all of NCSL’s post-election coverage.

Kevin Pula is a Senior Policy Specialist with NCSL’s Transportation Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.