Transportation a Winner During State Legislative Session

The recently ended state legislative session was generally not a good one for business. Years of bottled up labor, social and environmental agendas took center stage with an avalanche of new laws, regulations and costs falling on business.

But, in a session with low expectations for transportation funding, we secured $300 million.

It’s important to note that leaders still have not provided a long-term funding source for transportation. But for at least another year, there is some money going to the state system.

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 263, which delays a bonding initiative approved last year in another transportation-funding measure until 2020. The initiative was supposed to be on this November’s ballot. The delay allows the state to sell another batch of certificates of participation (sort of like bonds) this summer. Of the $500 million of COPs, it is anticipated that some of them will come to North I-25, maybe as much as $300 million.

Legislators also retained $200 million in this year’s budget, while adding an additional $100 million from the general fund.

So far so good, but then there’s House Bill 1257. This bill would ask voters to give up future TABOR refunds forever with one-third of those revenues going to state and local roadways and multi-modal options. The measure passed basically along partisan lines. The Chamber has not taken a position but in early conversations we are bothered with the permanent nature of the measure.

Additionally, it does not appear state leaders lived up to their commitment last time they asked for this type of thing with Referendum C in 2005. Voters approved the retention and spending of an amount of revenue above the TABOR limit. Those retained monies were to be spent in certain categories. The commitment to transportation may not have been honored. We need to do more homework and have a formal policy discussion this summer and fall before setting our position.

In the meantime, we’ll enjoy getting some additional funding for transportation.