(Sept. 7) – A plan by business groups to push for a ballot measure to increase state investment in transportation was applauded today by the two House Democrats who sponsored a 2017 bill to achieve the same goal.
The new initiative, unveiled Wednesday, is being spearheaded by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce with support from the Colorado Contractors Association. Negotiations with several other groups are continuing. While the language of the measure has not yet been announced, it is expected to be based on last session’s transportation compromise effort, HB17-1242.
That bill, sponsored by Speaker Duran and Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, would have asked the voters of Colorado to provide financing for $3.5 billion in projects, capturing all of Colorado’s tier 1 needs statewide. It also included new revenue for local governments and new matching dollars for transportation options across the state, to help commuters to get to work on time, to help seniors stay in their homes and to provide those with disabilities access to efficient and affordable transportation.
The bill, which also had the sponsorship of Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, and Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, passed the House but died when the Republican members in the Senate Finance Committee locked down against it.
“I’m glad to see the business community moving forward with this effort to build a transportation network that meets the needs of our growing state,” Speaker Duran said. “The path to continued prosperity will not be travelled over potholed, traffic-choked roads.”
“Our state is facing a transportation crisis, and it’s not just along the Front Range,” said Rep. Mitsch Bush, the chairwoman of the House Transportation & Energy Committee. “For the rural areas of our state, deteriorating roads and bridges and lack of public transit impose severe difficulties for business, agriculture, energy and people who must travel long distances to access health care.”
“Without a statewide solution, some Colorado communities with deeper pockets have been moving forward with transportation initiatives of their own, leaving many other communities behind,” Speaker Duran said. “We need a long-term, statewide solution, and I hope the voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to make this investment in the future of our state.”