Transportation on the ballot in two states

Curtis Compton

The composition of the next Congress will not be the only thing decided at the ballot during Tuesday’s election. 

Voters in states like Wisconsin and Georgia will be weighing in on the future of transportation funding in addition to selecting their congressional representation. 

In Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker's (R) bid for reelection has dominated headlines, voters will be asked to decide on the creation of a transportation trust fund to ensure that gas tax money that is collected by the state is spent on infrastructure. 

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States have been forced to focus more on their own infrastructure revenue as Congress has been unable to come up with a way to pay for a long-term federal transportation bill. The approximately $11 billion measure approved in July is scheduled to last only until next May. 

Elsewhere in Georgia, where races for Senate and governor have been closer than initially expected, voters in the Atlanta suburb Clayton County will vote on joining the city’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system.

The referendum calls for Clayton County to implement a one-cent sales tax that would pay for MARTA buses and eventually trains. The vote would represent the first expansion of the MARTA system since it was created in the 1970s. 

MARTA is the eighth-busiest transit system in the U.S., and the largest that does not receive funding from the state it operates in. The system is funded entirely by sales tax revenue in counties that have opted to join it, making the Clayton County vote a bellwether of the viability of MARTA expansion. 

The MARTA campaign has drawn attention from national figures such as the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who both visited Georgia earlier this month to urge voters to approve the referendum to join MARTA.