(May 7) – The House of Representatives gave its preliminary assent tonight to an amended bill to achieve one of the key goals of the 2018 legislative session — a multiyear Colorado transportation plan that will relieve traffic congestion and support our state’s economic prosperity without jeopardizing education funding. 

Speaker Crisanta Duran and the Senate president, Kevin Grantham, announced earlier today that they had forged a bipartisan agreement on the details of one-time transportation appropriations over the next two budget years followed by a 20-year investment to reduce what CDOT describes as $9 billion in needs to bring Colorado’s roads, bridges and mass transit up to a level that fully satisfies the needs of our growing and increasingly prosperous state.

“This proposal reflects our commitment to meaningful and sustainable investments to repair and expand our crumbling, overburdened highway system and beef up transportation options that focus on moving people, not vehicles,” the speaker said. “We have said from the beginning of the session that transportation is a top priority for the House Democrats, and this proposal delivers without putting education spending at risk.”

Like the previous iteration of SB18-001, the amended bill commits $495 million in one-time transportation investments in the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1, and $150 million in one-time transportation funding in the 2019-20 fiscal year. The amendment changes how those one-time funds are spent each year, boosting the percentage devoted to the state highway fund from 60 percent to 70 percent, with a corresponding reduction in the percentage for local roads. The allocation to a new multimodal transportation options fund remains at 15 percent, for a 70-15-15 split both years.

After the first two years of outlays, the next step under the plan is the purchase of $2.34 billion in bonds for transportation projects. As amended, the bill increases the amount of general fund money to be dedicated annually to bond service and transportation to $122 million. 

“We are trying to balance competing needs so that we do not mortgage our future away and balance the budget in future years on the backs of students,” Speaker Duran said.

“This bill is a giant step toward the kind of transportation system Coloradans need and deserve,” said Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, who sponsored SB18-001 and worked with Speaker Duran and Republican leaders to reach this bipartisan agreement. “We’re maxxing out the resources currently available to us. But we’re a long way from filling that $9 billion hole. Voters still need to make a choice in November about whether to invest in our overburdened transportation system.”

After a recorded vote on Tuesday, SB18-001 will return to the Senate for its concurrence.

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