(March 27) –– A bipartisan transportation compromise to fix Colorado’s overburdened transportation system passed the House Finance Committee with a 10-3 vote this afternoon.
“This bill has come out of months of negotiations to solve our need for statewide transportation solutions,” said Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, the chairwoman of the House Transportation & Energy Committee, who is sponsoring HB-1242 with Speaker Duran. “Our state is operating with a revenue scheme last adjusted in the early 1990s, even though the cost of road construction has gone up significantly. We need new, sustainable and predictable transportation revenue to bolster Colorado’s competitive edge.”
“Potholes are not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue—potholes impact all Coloradans,” said Speaker Crisanta Duran. “It’s been a very long time in Colorado since we have had a dedicated, sustainable source of funding for transportation, and it shows. This bill ensures we have the necessary means to invest in our roads and bridges and to organize our system not to just move cars, but to move people.”
“Now is our opportunity to accomplish something for the state of Colorado,” added Speaker Duran. “At a time with so much divisiveness, let’s show the people of Colorado that we can come together and deliver results.”
The bill would refer a measure to the November 2017 ballot asking voters to raise the state sales tax by 0.62 percent — 6 cents on a $10 purchase. The increase would generate roughly $604 million annually in total with increased revenue from sales tax revenue and reductions in vehicle registration fees. It would reallocate $50 million in existing state revenue toward transportation projects as well.
The revenue would finance $3.5 billion in bonds for transportation projects prioritized by the state Transportation Commission. Of the remainder, 70 percent would go to local governments so they can address their most urgent needs, and 30 percent would go toward flexible local transportation options to move people efficiently where they need to go, help elderly and disabled Coloradans maintain their independence and make it easier and safer for children to get to and from school.
Three Republicans joined all the Democrats on the committee to send the bill forward. The bill proceeds to the House Appropriations Committee.