Using Ballot Initiatives to Help Pay For Infrastructure ImprovementsResource Government
November 8, 2012 — 947 views
Using Ballot Initiatives to Help Pay For Infrastructure Improvements
With Washington D.C. frozen in partisan bickering, federal spending on important state needs, such as infrastructure construction and maintenance, continues to be murky. Automatic spending cuts on January 1, 2013 have states worried the federal government will not deliver on promised spending. Discretionary spending freezes for the last three years have reduced the amount of investment states could make.
States have turned 2012 into a case study for raising funds for infrastructure investment and improvement without the state legislature enacting unpopular spending cuts or tax increases to fund these projects. This year, states are using their ballots to allow voters the opportunity to approve projects and bond initiatives.
State and local governments have used bond initiatives on the ballot before. What makes 2012 different is the sheer number of initiatives on the ballot across America. It seems many states and counties are looking to raise some form of capital to invest in roads, bridges, water and sewage systems, underground power lines, or other improvements vital for commercial and residential growth.
What a ballot initiative allows is the government to present projects to the people directly, without having to raise taxes, cut other programs, or have any blood on their hands in the future. It's a way to deflect blame if things change in the future.
Surprisingly, individuals are using the ballot to present projects and needs to the government which have been shot down through traditional means. New water systems in Alabama were approved by a ballot initiative driven by a concerned citizens group.
Depending on the state and local laws, it is entirely possible for infrastructure projects to be placed on the ballot, bypassing the government. In a society where many believe government works for special interests rather than the people, a growing number of groups are trying to take back control for the people. Using initiatives on the ballot is one way the people can have a say in how their state is run.
Raising a bond or approving a project through the ballot is one way to put investment back into the state. Too often, infrastructure is forgotten as a driving force to economics. Roads, bridges, ports, airports, trains, and subways are all important to businesses looking to expand and grow. States are trying to grow their own economies, rather than continuing to see jobs leave their borders for better infrastructure investments in China, India, or Indonesia.