Several significant transportation funding measures were introduced this session but neither bill survived. HB-1242 “New Transportation Infrastructure Funding Revenue” was a bipartisan measure sponsored by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House, but it died in a Senate committee opposed to new taxes. The bill was widely supported by a diverse coalition of groups because it would’ve funded transportation at the state and local level as well as provide generous amounts for multi-modal projects.
SB-303 “State Highway System Funding and Financing” was a Republican messaging bill sponsored by Senator John Cooke. It included the TRANS bond financing measure supported by NCLA but was amended to prohibit the use of express toll lanes in new highway projects, a silly addition that would’ve ensured the death of the bill in the House. Senate President Grantham laid the bill over until it had no chance of making it through the legislature before Wednesday’s adjournment to avoid watching it implode.
So, what now? The Independence Institute is poised to push its own transportation funding ballot measure with the tongue-in-cheek title of Fix Our Damn Roads,” which would ask voters to approve a measure using existing State revenue to issue TRANS bonds. Will the Institute take on the expensive task of gathering enough signatures to get the question on the November ballot? Some observers say it will but at the very least the repeated efforts to push transportation measures this session indicate that the need is finally being recognized.