Lessons Learned from Recent Campaigns to Increase Local and State Transportation and Transit Funding Presented at the Transit Initiatives And Communities Conference Stephanie Pollack June 26, 2013. Transit Funding: It Isn’t Just for Capital Projects.
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If not addressed, undermine ability to secure funds for capital projects
If not addressed, transit advocates can be pitted one against another
State and local government may not have the resources to provide needed operating funds
“State and local governments, left to their own devices, will restrict funding on transit operations based on the income of their inhabitants, not based on need. . . . This is a paradox. The regions with relatively lower levels of poverty (such as Washington and Boston) can spend significantly more of their local and state funds on transit operations than regions with higher levels of poverty (such as Detroit and Memphis.”
The Transport Public
March 12, 2013
Maximizing transit share of available federal funds through the Metropolitan Planning Organization
Increasing total state spending on transportation and the share that goes to transit for operations, maintenance and new capital projects
Securing funds – including operating funds – at the ballot box
Sometimes the campaign is entirely in the legislature securing funding
Keep New York Moving campaign (2009)
Transportation Works for Kansas (2010)
Other times legislation is needed prior to the ballot vote
Washington State enabling legislation for King County congestion reduction charge
California enabling legislation for Measure RLesson #1: Both the legislature and voters matter
Measure R Spending Allocation
Washington state/King County
When considering equity in funding mechanisms, the question is whether the method chosen is more regressive than other ways of paying for transit – including fares.
Who will pay the proposed taxes and fees – are they progressive or regressive?
Who will benefit from the investments made with the transit funding?
If those taxes and/or fees are not raised, who will pay the higher fares?
“Unlike an income tax, which generally applies to most income, the sales tax applies only to a portion of income that is spent — and exempts income that is saved. Since high earners are able to save a much larger share of their incomes than middle-income families — and since the poor can rarely save at all — the tax is inherently regressive. The average state’s consumption tax structure is equivalent to an income tax with a 7 percent rate for the poor, a 4.6 percent rate for the middle class, and a 0.9 percent rate for the wealthiest taxpayers.”