Infrastructure projects could get a cash boost from Nov. 6 voting, with about $3.2 billion in state measures and some $36 billion in local initiatives passed, according to analyses and media reports.
The American Road & Transportation Builders Association says 68% of its tracked measures passed, totaling $2.4 billion for road upgrades, including a tax hike in Arkansas set to raise $1.3 billion over 10 years. Among local measures approved was a sales-tax hike in Orange County, N.C., set to raise $661 million over 30 years. New Jersey voters said yes to $750 million for higher education, and those in Connecticut OK'd $800 million in borrowing to continue a $2.1-billion sewerage upgrade. Casino expansion passed in Maryland and Rhode Island. Despite concerns about debt, voters OK'd $5.4 billion of $6 billion in municipal measures in Texas and $12.8 billion of $14.8 billion in California, mostly for schools.
Michigan voters defeated a controversial measure that would have required their approval to build international crossings. Had it passed, Proposal 6 could have jeopardized state plans for a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Despite lobbying by the private owner of the toll bridge, voters rejected the proposal by nearly two to one.
But Arizonans were not so enthusiastic. They rejected a sales- tax hike extension that would have raised $900 million for education and $100 million for infrastructure, despite major support from construction and other sectors. Says Gary Haydon, chairman of AGC's Arizona chapter, "It does not mean the issues of a floundering education system in our state or the continued raids on the highway fund will go away." Los Angeles voters defeated a measure favored by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) to accelerate rail transit by extending a 1½¢ sales tax.
There was better news for two industry executives who won new Congressional seats. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican plumbing contractor and Associated Builders and Contractors member in Oklahoma, will fill a seat vacated by retiring Rep. Dan Boren (D). In Florida's redrawn 18th district, Democrat Patrick Murphy, vice president of Coastal Environmental Services, a unit of family-owned Coastal Construction, won a tight race against Republican incumbent Allen West. On Nov. 20, West conceded after two weeks of recount efforts failed to change the result. A less than 1% difference decided the final tally.