(March 8) – In a breakthrough achieved after months of negotiations, Speaker Crisanta Duran and Senate President Kevin Grantham introduced a bill this afternoon to address the state’s immediate and long-range transportation needs, give city and county governments a boost for local transportation priorities and ensure that more Coloradans across the state have access to transportation options.
HB17-1242 is sponsored by Speaker Duran, President Grantham and the chairs of the House and Senate transportation committees — Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs.
If approved by the House and Senate, the bill would place on the November 2017 ballot a measure to increase the state sales tax and make a series of reductions in state vehicle registration fees.
Roughly $680 million in new and existing resources would be made available for the state’s transportation needs, to be leveraged for up to $3.5 billion in bonding for projects across the state, if a 0.62 percent sales tax increase is approved by the voters in November.
Much of the money would be distributed to city and county governments for their local transportation priorities. Local governments would be able to put the funding toward their most pressing local needs.
“Every county and city in Colorado will share in the benefits from this transportation package,” Speaker Duran said. “And we will insist on transparency and accountability, so that voters will know where their dollars are going and how they will be used. This package, if approved by the legislature and the voters, would be a major step forward for this state and firmly position us for growth and prosperity for the next 20 years.”
“Introduction of this transportation bill doesn’t mean we’ve arrived, just that we’ve hit another important mile marker on the long and winding road to a long-term transportation fix for Colorado,” President Grantham said. “This bill probably isn’t what the final product will look like, because what’s being introduced is a work in progress and there’s still a lot of debate, compromise and hard work ahead before we’ll have a proposal good enough to pass muster with voters. But I’m optimistic that we’ll get there in the end.”
The bill would address Colorado’s worsening problem of rapid population and economic growth without matching upgrades to our transportation system. CDOT estimates $9 billion is needed to repair crumbling roads, perform needed maintenance on bridges and relieve worsening traffic congestion that reduces Colorado’s productivity and damages our quality of life.