- Voters nationwide last week approved at least $24.4 billion in bond initiatives that will back construction projects ranging from schools to infrastructure, Bloomberg reported. There was more than $76 billion worth of such measures — the highest dollar amount since 2006 — seeking voter approval, so the amount could rise as more results are announced.
- Californians approved more than $16 billion of debt for projects including San Diego security improvements and plumbing ($3.5 billion), homelessness prevention housing ($2 billion), other housing and veterans' loans ($4 billion) and children's hospital renovations ($1.5 billion). Other bond initiatives included $500 million for school and infrastructure projects in New Jersey, $548 million for school construction in North Carolina, $653 million in Oregon for affordable housing, and $600 million for non-tolled highway construction in Collin County, Texas.
- Not all bond referendums were winners. Voters rejected proposals for $430 million in highway and road construction in Pima County, Arizona; $8.9 billion for water infrastructure and watershed conservation in California; $450 million for housing in San Jose, California; and almost $10 billion in transportation, road and bridge projects in Colorado. Despite some losses, the dollar amount of bond issues on the midterm ballots this year is an indication that many states and cities are moving on from recession-era purse-string tightening and are willing to take on debt to make critical improvements to infrastructure and other assets.
California voters also demonstrated their commitment to seeing the state overhaul and upgrade $52 billion worth of infrastructure by rejecting Proposition 6, an repeal of the state fuel tax. The excise tax component added 12 cents to a gallon of gas and 20 cents to a gallon of diesel, as well as an additional diesel sales tax.
The construction industry came out in full force to defeat the measure, with contractors, material suppliers, industry organizations and those sympathetic to the cause spending more than $40 million in the process. More than $3.5 million of that came from California DOT's top contractors, which include Granite Construction, Lane Construction, HNTB and Ames Construction.
In comparison, Proposition 6 supporters managed to raise about $3.4 million.
Missouri voters, however, decided they did not want to pay more at the pump in order to help the state's DOT pay for road and bridge work and rejected Proposition D, which would have increased the state's fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon.