Panel Paper: The Effect of State Legislative Redistricting and Partisan Alignment on Transportation Funding

Thursday, November 2, 2017
Addams (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Walter T. Melnik, Michigan State University

In 2012 the State of Ohio redrew its state legislative (“General Assembly”) districts based on the 2010 census. Roughly 32% of the population moved to a new state House of Representatives district, that is, a different district than the majority of the old district’s population. Redistricting divided the state into 265 areas of intersection between old and new districts. In many cases, redistricting moved an area into a district whose incumbent representative belonged to the opposing political party. This process provides variation in partisan alignment not directly related to election outcomes. I use this variation to answer the following question: if an area’s legislator is a member of the party controlling the Assembly and governorship, are more state funds directed towards that area?

I use a dataset from the Ohio Department of Transportation, detailing 10,261 road construction projects in Ohio from the 2003 fiscal year onward, with total estimated cost of $22.4 billion. The data include information on project cost, project purpose, and each project’s geographic coordinates. From 2010-2016 the Republican party controlled the Ohio House of Representatives, the Ohio Senate, and the governorship. I find that areas moving from a Republican to a Democratic Representative during the redistricting year received 0.41 standard deviations less in annual highway construction funding, relative to areas that stayed with a Republican representative.