Governors Seek Transportation Funds

AASHTO Journal, 14 November 2014

Texas governor-elect Greg Abbott’s campaign ad depicting him out-running Texas traffic in his wheelchair.

A number of governors who won the office or new terms on Nov. 4 are saying they want to find ways to increase revenue for their transportation systems.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told reporters after his reelection he wants to immediately start a discussion with leaders of his legislature toward crafting a revenue package all sides can agree on, and that includes new ways to lock in a long-term revenue stream. (See story in State section of this week’s Journal).

Governing magazine rounded up comments from several others including Greg Abbott, who will become the first new Texas chief executive in 14 years and wants to boost transportation spending without new taxes or tolls.

Abbott, who is partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, aired a September campaign ad using a traffic jam and saying “a guy in a wheelchair can move faster than traffic on some roads in Texas.”

Texas voters this month backed a constitutional amendment to dedicate some oil and gas tax revenue to transportation, but Abbott also wants to curb diversion of highway construction funds to other budget lines and put some of the state’s receipts from motor vehicle sales taxes into roads. He met Nov. 10 with top officials of the Texas Department of Transportation.

The Governing story also noted that three more governors who won reelection this month – Minnesota’s Mark Dayton, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Snyder in Michigan – have all publicly said they want to boost transportation spending soon.

AASHTO Journal previously reported on remarks by Dayton and Walker suggesting their states move toward sales taxes on fuel instead of the current fixed, per-gallon fees. Snyder reportedly said in a Nov. 5 radio interview that he wants Michigan’s legislature to pass a road funding bill in its lame duck session before he starts his next term Jan. 1.

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