Federal Inactivity Drives State Creativity With Infrastructure Funding

In the absence of a strong federal partner, states clamoring for infrastructure funds have taken financing measures into their own hands.

Despite pleas for bipartisanship from lawmakers and trade association leaders during Infrastructure Week in mid-May, any prospect of a federal infrastructure package seems to have vanished. Talks between President Donald Trump and congressional leaders dissolved. Many lawmakers have shifted their attention to the upcoming presidential election, rather than the Highway Trust Fund expiration date, which precedes it by just a few weeks.

Dysfunction in Washington has forced states to get creative with infrastructure fundraising methods. Oregon, Utah, and California have explored road-usage charge programs. Rhode Island has sparked controversy with its trucks-only tolling program, and Connecticut lawmakers continued to deliberate tolls during a special summer session. Many states have increased fuel tax rates over the past few years.