Fix Colorado Roads

I get asked all the time about I-25 and transportation funding. It’s the topic locally. This legislative session, we are supporting the passage of Senate Bill 1 to secure some general fund money from Colorado’s budget for transportation as well as bonding to jumpstart work on projects like North I-25.

On January 23, I posted this entry on my blog about the legislative session and transportation funding. Since then SB 1 was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.

In the meantime, the Denver Metro Chamber has pulled four ballot titles for potential ballot measures this fall according to a story in the Denver Business Journal last week. In essence, they are planning to bypass the legislative process to go straight to voters.

Kudos to the Denver Chamber for providing leadership on transportation. Colorado is not keeping up with its highway system and needs to commit significantly more money than it has today. The Denver Chamber is right that we need to get more funding for transportation.

However, we are not convinced, yet, that what they are proposing will work. We are still questioning whether sales tax is the best approach and certainly not at any of the rates the Chamber is considering. A half-cent will be hard to pass and a full cent is dead on arrival.

A 5¢ per gallon gas tax indexed to inflation is more promising and should get added to the mix.

It would be preferable to see the Legislature reach agreement to refer a measure to the ballot. It would indicate bi-partisan support better than the petition route.

Regardless, legislative leaders and the Governor should make a significant commitment of general fund money toward transportation. There is more than a billion dollars on new, unencumbered revenue available. At least $300 million and maybe even 30 percent or more should be dedicated to transportation. Asking voters to pass a new tax without also putting some available resources toward solving the problem is unreasonable.

So, while the early momentum and optimism for legislative action has faded a little, people continue to ponder the problem of how to fix Colorado’s roads. Say, that’s a great name for a statewide transportation coalition! Visit Fix Colorado Roads to stay up-to-date.