Capitol Conversation: Coloradans May Vote On Road, Bridge Funding

Mar 13, 2017

Legislative leaders have coalesced around a bill that, if approved, would ask Colorado voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund road, bridge and transit projects. The bipartisan transportation bill is dividing the GOP, with opponents saying Colorado hasn't done enough to tighten its budget and find efficiencies.

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland discusses the issue with Charles Ashby, a reporter for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, and Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal.

On what the political fight going to be like:

Sealover: The right had said, 'We want you to cut some significant state funding in order to put into the revenue stream to show the state has skin in the game.' Well that didn't happen.  House Republicans came out vehemently against this, saying they were really angry that they hadn't been included in negotiations and will work vigorously against this. Remind you, this is sponsored by the Senate president, a Republican, and the House Republicans are saying that.

On how likely voters are to pass the proposed tax increase:

Sealover: It is going to be a tough fight no doubt to try to get voters to give money to this, although I would say that this has consistently polled higher than any subject in recent years on voters' concerns. So if there's any place they're going to give more money to it's going to be this area.

Ashby: That's why they're basing this on a project list that's already created by [The Colorado Department of Transportation] -- the bottom up approach. That's the way it's always done. That includes transit stuff in there, that includes whatever local project that you want -- and it's taken out of the legislature so they can't be tinkering with who is going to get the money. Is it going to go to I-25 or is it going to go to I-70 or where it's going to go. So I think that's very smart on their part.

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.