Capitol Conversation: Major Policy Goals Could Fail At Colorado Statehouse

Apr 24, 2017

Colorado's legislative session is starting to wind down, but two of the major policy goals are unraveling.

Getting more money for transportation infrastructure projects and transit is one of them. A bill that would send a sales tax increase to voters cleared the Democratic House and its first Senate committee. But Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham now says he doesn't have enough Republican Party support for the measure to pass the Finance committee.

Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and John Frank with the Denver Post spoke to Bente Birkeland about the dynamics at play and the ramifications for this year and beyond.

On why many people didn't expect this outcome:

Sealover: What is most surprising is Grantham's inability to wrangle his own caucus on this. I think you always saw people like Sen. Tim Neville [R-Littleton], maybe the most conservative member of the Senate, was going to vote against this. But getting someone like Jack Tate [R-Centennial], who is a very pro-business Senator in most cases, to not go with the wishes of the business community to get this out to a vote of the people is a bit surprising.

On what it means politically if transportation and another measure to help fund hospitals, roads and schools are both defeated:

Frank: If both these bills fail, as Ed suggests, it would be a significant blow to legislative leaders who staked their political capital on both measures, and the Governor who has tried to seek a compromise on both these issues for the past three years.

On what it all means for this November and long-term transportation funding:

Sealover: What you're going to end up with is no transportation funding solutions coming out of this session, and you're going to end up with people really scrambling in 2018 if a ballot measure does not pass in November to try to figure out how to address this crisis.

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.