Transportation funding propositions around the U.S. faced tough sledding in the November 4th elections. A review of election outcomes nationwide shows that of 32 referenda on the ballot, half passed. In past elections, the passage rate for transportation referenda has been upwards of 70 percent.
Historically, funding referenda have faced tougher odds in non-presidential elections, and this was especially true in 2014. In our region, Greenlight Pinellas, which would have funded an expanded bus and rail system with a penny sales tax, was turned down by voters by 38 to 62 percent margin. Likewise in Polk County, My Ride/ My Road, which would have funded expanded bus service and road projects with a penny sales tax, was rejected by a margin of 28 to 72 percent. Citizens in Alachua County and Gainesville also voted against a penny sales tax for road, bus, bike and pedestrian projects by a 40 to 60 percent margin.
Looking at the 2014 results in more detail, propositions for increased sales taxes were a particularly tough sell: only three out of eleven passed. Proposed increases ranged from 1/8 to a full penny, but the amount did not seem to make a difference to the outcome. Proposals to raise or renew property taxes for transit fared better, with four out of six ballot measures passing (and all were in Michigan).
Clayton County, Georgia was one of the sales tax measures that passed, with voters approving a penny sales tax to join the MARTA transit system by a vote of 74 to 26 percent. Also in the Atlanta metro area, voters in Cobb County approved renewing their penny sales tax for transportation projects by a margin of 53 to 47 percent.
More information is available at the Center for Transportation Excellence.