Transportation at the Ballot Box: A Post-Election Inventory

It’s been just a little over a week since the 2022 midterm elections, and as always, there were quite a few upsets and surprises in everything from town council to U.S. Senate races. The same could also be said for the more than 140 transportation ballot measures tracked by the Eno Center for Transportation this year. Since 2016, Eno has tracked all the measures, initiatives, and referenda related to all transportation modes and at all levels of government.

On November 10, Eno presented on its findings and electoral analysis in a rapid response webinar. Readers can access a recording of the webinar by following the link here.

As votes continue to come in and we update our final tallies, here are a few of the results we wanted to mention.

By The Numbers:

Out of the four regions of the country surveyed by Eno, the South had the largest share of transportation measures—60 percent–, particularly in Texas. Twenty-six percent of all measures were held in the West, 9 percent in the Midwest, and 6 percent in the Northeast.

Overall, we estimated $8.4 billion was at stake for transportation on Election Night. Twenty-eight percent of all measures were bond measures, tied with sales taxes as the most popular form of revenue generation. Property taxes were a close third at 26 percent. Alternative funding mechanisms such as fuel and hotel taxes as well as vehicle registration fees comprised less than 3 percent of all ballot measures.

Matching a trend that Eno has catalogued since 2016, a growing number of ballot measures were multimodal. Thirty percent of all measures were multimodal, compared to only 8 percent in 2018. However, 54 percent of all ballot measures were exclusively reserved for road construction and maintenance. Preference for roads over other forms of transportation is consistent with our previous observations.

Ballot’s Up: What Passed (and What Didn’t)

Eno paid close attention to a few ballot initiatives in particular on Election Night. California and Massachusetts both had “millionaires’ taxes” on their ballots, but both experienced different outcomes. Massachusetts’ “Fair Share Amendment” passed with a rather close 52/48 split, while California’s Proposition 30 was soundly defeated (40/60). Interestingly enough, Massachusetts saw higher support in the relatively sparsely populated

After a few tense days of vote tallying, Arizona’s Pinal County rejected Proposition 469. The half-cent sales tax would fund a previously voter-approved “Pinal Region Transportation Plan.” The close race now leaves funding for the program uncertain after the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the previous tax was unconstitutional.

In Brazos County, TX, voters ultimately approved of Proposition A, which would fund specific infrastructure projects throughout the area. Raising $100,000,000 over 30 years, 60 percent of voters supported the bond measure. However, the proposed vehicle registration fee increase failed, with 60 percent of voters turning out against the proposal. The fee increase would have raised $1,400,000 a year.

One of the more unique funding proposals, Carson City’s Question 1 was approved by 60 percent of voters. The half-cent tax is projected to raise $500,000 a year. On the other hand, Washington state voters approved a “repeal” of an increase in aviation fuel taxes by a 59/41 margin. However, the resolution is non-binding and there have been no announcements from Olympia on the outcome.

Denver is on track to complete a revitalization of its pedestrian infrastructure (sooner than 400 years) after the successful passage of Initiative 307. The tax on property owners for length of sidewalk on their property was approved by 56 percent of voters. The expected revenue from the measure is roughly $43,000,000 annually.

Philadelphia voters approved the creation of a civil aviation department to manage the region’s two airports. The new department will be removed from its current home under the city’s Department of Commerce. Nebraska also approved the expansion of passenger air service throughout the state by a 78/22 margin.

Finally, public transit suffered relatively mixed results on Election Night. Orange and Hillsborough counties in Florida rejected attempts to establish greater public transit funding throughout their respective regions. However, similar attempts to Boulder, Colorado and San Francisco, California passed, funding transit and pedestrian infrastructure expansions.

Eno will continue to track election results as they trickle in. Stay tuned for more coverage of the elections that not only determine where we live, but how we live.

The Eno Center for Transportation does not formally endorse or oppose any of the measures. But, as always, we are paying close attention to the messages voters send.

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