Can’t We All Just Get Along on Transportation

As I write this I’m supposed to be headed to the Annual BizWest Economic Forecast luncheon in Greeley. Instead, I found out yesterday that the hearing for an important transportation bill is scheduled for today in Denver so I’m getting ready to testify.

The legislative and political landscape in the Capitol is always interesting, but especially when the two legislative chambers are controlled by different political parties, and it’s an election year. Everybody declares their fealty to fixing the state’s transportation woes. Then the warring philosophies surface with loud voices claim there’s enough money in the budget without raising taxes and other loud voices saying there’s no room in the budget for transportation and only answer is a tax increase.

Like most things, the answer is somewhere in between.

Colorado has a transportation funding problem and it’s long past time to do something about it. While the state budget has grown dramatically since the Great Recession, very little of the new revenue has gone to transportation. State leaders have made other choices. With a billion dollars of uncommitted new revenue this year, we are asking the Legislature to commit $300 million to transportation.

We are also asking the state to bond some of their revenue so $3.5B of transportation bonds can be issued to jumpstart big projects like North I-25.

Regarding new revenue, it should be considered in light of the fact the state has a $9B cumulative funding shortfall for transportation. We have not increased the state gas tax since 1992 and the vehicle ownership tax is woefully out of date. It’s reasonable to look at new revenue options also.

Anyway, the bill that’s up today is SB 001. You can read more about it here. Let’s get something done this year.