Dems Put Bonds Back Into Transportation Bill

(May 3) – With a substantial Democratic rewrite that restores a responsible level of bonding to the equation, the House Transportation & Energy Committee voted today to advance the Senate version of a bill to dramatically increase Colorado’s transportation funding.

“We’re making a commitment to invest heavily in upgrading our overburdened transportation systems to reduce the time Coloradans have to sit in traffic,” said Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, the chairwoman of the Transportation Committee and author of the revised SB18-001. “We are doing this in a responsible way that doesn’t undermine our commitment to other top state priorities like education.”

As amended, SB18-001 appropriates $495 million in general fund revenues already set aside in the 2018-19 state budget and divides it 60 percent for state highway projects, 25 percent for local governments’ road projects and 15 percent for a new multimodal transportation fund for county and municipal governments, which in most cases would be required to commit matching funds.

The bill also commits to a general fund transfer of $150 million in the 2019-20 state budget, split along the same percentages as in 2018.

Upon voter approval, beginning in 2020 the state would commit to a 20-year bonding package that would result in $3.35 billion for transportation. The first $350 million of the bond proceeds would be held in reserve in case an economic downturn creates a shortfall in general fund revenue, so that K-12 education would not have to take a hit. Of the rest, 70 percent would go to CDOT’s Tier 1 project list, 15 percent split 50/50 between municipalities and counties, and 15 percent to the multimodal transportation fund.

“Our 20-year transportation funding plan will repair our highways and bridges, address traffic congestion and make investments to organize our roads not just to move cars, but to move people,” said Speaker Crisanta Duran, who is involved with Rep. Winter in ongoing discussions on SB18-001 with leadership in the state Senate. “This solution will benefit rural, urban and suburban communities across Colorado.”

On an 8-7 vote, the amended SB18-001 is headed to the House Finance Committee, with plenty of time for final passage before going back to the Senate for its concurrence.

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