Transportation Lockboxes On NJ and IL Ballots

This November voters in Illinois and New Jersey will consider whether to set up “lockboxes” for their transportation revenues, preventing their expenditures on non-transportation-related purposes.

Thirty states have constitutional provisions limiting how transportation revenues are spent, according to the Council of State Governments. Maryland is one of the most recent states to enact such protections, which voters overwhelmingly passed in November 2014 after the state raised the gas tax.

The Illinois proposal sets up a lockbox for its transportation set-asides, like Maryland’s did.  Reports Governing

“Illinois politicians have wasted millions of tax dollars on bureaucracy and mismanagement,” said Frank Manzo of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, pointing to $6.8 billion of transportation money lawmakers diverted since 2002. That cost the state 4,700 jobs, he says. “Requiring transportation money to be spent on transportation would improve the Illinois economy.”

The debate has been more subdued in New Jersey, where the main attention has been on what mix of taxes should be raised and lowered to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund. But [Governor Chris] Christie has pushed the amendment, even as he’s negotiated with lawmakers on a tax deal.

“Vote yes on that because otherwise that increase will be able to be spent on anything, and if you leave an unguarded pot of money in Trenton — bad move, everybody. Bad move,” the governor said in a radio interview.