AASHTO Journal, 5 April 2013
Last Friday (March 29), the Maryland state Senate passed a transportation investment bill that will bring in additional dollars to fund transportation infrastructure across the state. Maryland’s actions are the latest in a growing trend to find alternative ways to make transportation investments across the country.
Maryland’s Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act, which passed by a vote of 27-20, indexes the state gas tax to inflation (effective immediately) and phases in a 3 percent sales tax on fuel. The bill allows for that sales tax to increase to 5 percent should Congress not pass a bill to allow states to tax internet sales. The measure, which had already passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 76-63 the previous week, now goes to Gov. Martin O’Malley for his signature.
“With the passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Act, we will support more than 57,000 jobs, ease traffic congestion, and build a 21st century transportation network,” O’Malley said in a statement upon the bill’s passage.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a two-year, $7.6 billion transportation bill on Monday that would allow the state to provide about $4 billion federal and state funds (mainly gas tax money) for road and bridge contracts. Ohio’s new transportation bill also allows (for the first time) the state to utilize toll revenue from its turnpike for projects other than those on the toll road.
Also this week, the Virginia General Assembly approved Gov. Bob McDonnell’s amendments to the transportation bill passed earlier this year (see related AASHTO Journal story here). The bill, originally passed without these amendments in February, replaces the state gas tax with a 3.5 percent wholesale tax on fuel and a 6 percent tax on diesel fuel, while also increasing the sales tax on nonfood merchandise from 5 percent to 5.3 percent.
While these three states’ transportation investment bills are innovative, other states are also finding new ways to invest more money into their transportation systems during a difficult economic time. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick outlined his own decade-long plan to invest in his state’s transportation infrastructure with $13.7 billion over the next 10 years to address congestion, delays, and deteriorating infrastructure (see related AASHTO Journal story here). Maine Gov. Paul LePage announced last month he was submitting a $100 million transportation bond bill to grow the state’s economy and increase safety through transportation infrastructure work.