Colorado: Transportation Bills Doomed by Partisanship

After weeks of negotiations with legislative leaders, the transportation bonding bill advocated by the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance (NCLA) was introduced in the last weeks of the session. SB-210 would ask Colorado voters to allow the State to incur debt for a list of highway projects across the State by issuing $3.5 million worth of bonds.  Supporters included CAR, Colorado Counties, Inc., Colorado Concern and a variety of economic development groups and chambers of commerce.

The bill passed the Senate on a 19-16 vote but failed to make it out of the House after Speaker Dickie Lee Hullinghorst assigned it to State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee (where bills go to die) on a 5-4 partisan vote. NCLA will try again in 2017. In the meantime, it is worth noting that state government revenue has grown by $3 billion since 2009 and none of this additional revenue has been devoted to transportation.

The Governor’s plan to remove the Hospital Provider Fee (HPF) out of the general fund to increase the TABOR cap and create funding for transportation and other key programs also failed to make it out of the General Assembly. Speaker Hullinghorst introduced two bills related to this concept, both of which were supported by CAR, but although they passed the House, they were crushed in the Senate. The Senate Republicans, who hold a majority, argued the bills were an attempt to weaken TABOR.

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