Last week a bipartisan transportation funding bill was introduced. “New Transportation Infrastructure Funding” HB-1242 is sponsored by Senate President Kevin Grantham and House Speaker Crisanta Duran, Senate Transportation Committee Chair Randy Baumgardner and House Transportation Chair Diane Mitsch Bush. The bill would refer a ballot measure to the November election to ask voters to: 1) Allow the State to issue TRANS bonds up to $3.5 billion and 2) Approve a state sales tax increase of .62 percent for 20 years.
In all honesty, this is a curious bill. It attempts to gain the support of all types of transportation proponents – urban-loving transit and multi-modal advocates, independent-thinking small rural communities and business groups lobbying for highway improvements. However, by spreading the funding far and wide, one wonders if the bill could really pay for significant improvements anywhere. The bill doesn’t include a state project list; it leaves the project selection to the Transportation Commission setting the stage for a political battle in which commissioners would determine winners and losers.
The bill already faces opposition from conservative Republicans in both houses, even though it reduces the unpopular FASTER fees adopted in 2009 to appease them. There’s nothing like a tax increase combined with multi-modal/transit funding to raise conservatives’ ire. CAR’s Legislative Policy Committee will consider the bill this Friday. A summary of the bill is available here: http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb17-1242