Oregon had failed to enact a highway and bridge funding measure for more than a decade, which meant state roads and overpasses were in a greater state of disrepair.
While lawmakers could find bipartisan agreement on a funding package, they had trouble satisfying interest groups, which successfully referred measures to the ballot where they were rejected by voters. Transportation advocates and legislative leaders needed a roadmap to follow for the 2009 session to develop a package that could pass the legislature and avoid a referral to the ballot.
CFM was retained to conduct an innovative form of database research to gauge citizen attitudes about public spending to stimulate job creation. Using web-based surveys and focus groups, CFM engaged 3,000 residents about what state efforts they preferred to help economic recovery. The research showed solid public support for targeted public spending on roads, bridges, schools and sewer and water systems. The research also showed Oregonians were willing to pay more for a package that was significant and actually created jobs. Feedback helped state leaders and businesses design a legislative package to fund more than $500 million in construction projects for roads, schools, utility grids and local building projects.
Armed with more in-depth research than ever before, legislative leaders and transportation advocates crafted a funding measure that followed the contours of research findings. The legislative package was double-checked with follow-up research that involved asking respondents of the first survey to comment on how well the package met their expectations. The funding package sailed through the legislature, there was no referral and it went in effect just as the recession hit Oregon, providing a job stimulus when it was needed most.