A deal is finally done in Colorado to pay for transportation work throughout the state.
House Republicans and Democrats in both chambers have reached agreement on a long-term funding deal to help the state address a 10-year, $9 billion backlog in transportation needs. Their deal greenlights the funding legislation to move to the governor’s desk.
The approved deal, SB1, allots $645 million in one-time transportation appropriations over the next two years. The infusion of revenue would come from the state’s general fund.
Gov. John Hickenlooper has supported plans to tap $500 million in one-time money to help address the road maintenance backlog. He is expected to sign the bill into law.
SB1 calls for routing 70 percent of the funds to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The remaining 30 percent would be split for local road projects and local transit or “multi-modal” projects.
“This is going to help us reduce congestion,” Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, said in prepared remarks. “We need a critical investment in transportation that reaches all four corners of the state and includes roads, highways and transit. SB1 is a critical step forward.”
Also included is a 20-year investment of general fund money in bonds.
Specifically, the plan calls for purchasing $2.34 billion in bonds for transportation work. The state would owe up to $3.25 billion in borrowing over 20 years.
Most of the bond money – 85 percent – would be allotted for state highway projects. Mass transit would claim 15 percent.
In addition, the legislation would authorize a public vote on whether to tap bonds to pay for transportation work. Passage of the fall 2019 ballot question would allow the state to borrow an additional $2.3 billion in bonds.
The question would be removed from next year’s ballot if petition drives being pursued by outside groups are approved on the upcoming November ballot. One effort calls for raising the state’s sales tax to generate up to $1 billion annually for roads. A separate attempt would use general funds to sell bonds to raise $3.5 billion.
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