Lawmaker Wants Ad Revenue from TDOT

As a potential source of revenue, one state lawmaker wants to sell ad space on TDOT’s green “HELP” trucks.

Republican Vince Dean of East Ridge, near Chattanooga and the Georgia state line, got the idea while driving through Atlanta.

“I saw on the back of one of their help trucks, ‘This vehicle sponsored by an insurance company.’ And I thought, hmmm…that may be a way for the state of Tennessee to generate some revenue.”

The state of Georgia gets $1.7 million a year from State Farm Insurance.

Dean has a pair of bills to generate money for Tennessee roads. The other sells 15-second ads on the state’s 511 help line.

According to legislative staff, the two bills could produce about a half million dollars a year.

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The bills have the blessing of the powerful House Finance Subcommittee. In the Senate they’re still waiting to go to the Senate Finance Committee.

Dean says the actual cost of the program, and the price to advertiser/sponsors, will be worked out by the staff at the Department of Transportation. He says the state-truck advertising won’t be unfair competition to traditional advertising media, like billboards.


“The Department of Transportation will actually hire an independent firm to handle and administer the sale of the sponsorships. They’ll be selling the sponsorships for what they know to be the fair price.”

The truck-advertising bill is HB 222 Dean/SB 31 Tracy.

Legislative staff figures the bill would bring in more than $300,000 a year to the state, according to this fiscal note.

The telephone line advertising bill is HB 223 Dean/SB 32 Tracy.

The fiscal note on the phone-line bill says the state would get $400,000 a year – although the staff admitted it was a hard figure to calculate.

http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/107/Fiscal/SB0032.pdf

This report from Georgia Public Broadcasting was posted last August and lists several ad-revenue initiatives by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

This note is from the “frequently asked questions” page of the Georgia Department of Transportation:

Why did the Georgia DOT add State Farm as a sponsor of the HERO program?
As the need for additional funding sources increased, Georgia DOT staff and State Transportation Board members began aggressively pursuing strategies to effectively overcome budget challenges. The FHWA supports program sponsorship and Georgia DOT officials researched similar highway response programs in other states. State Farm was awarded the sponsorship rights over other RFP respondents and will pay the Department $1.7 million per year for the next three years. All monies received will be used to support the HERO program. In addition to insuring approximately 1 out of every 4 cars in Georgia, State Farm is a leading advocate for safer roads and provides ongoing support of auto safety initiatives through partnerships with automotive safety organizations as well as financial and operational resources.

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