Road funding tops Colorado governor's wish list

| Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has offered state lawmakers a budget proposal that includes additional highway funding and heating assistance.

Owens told the Joint Budget Committee Monday, Nov. 28, he wants to spend $80 million on roads and bridges and $10 million to help residents pay their heating bills this winter, The Durango Herald reported.

He put in his requests on the heels of a bigger budget approved early this month with the passage of Referendum C and its five-year suspension of state government revenue cap growths.

Thanks to the referendum’s passage, Colorado has an infusion of $440 million for this year’s budget and $505 million for next year, the newspaper reported.

But most of the money for the current year is earmarked elsewhere and after topping off the rainy-day fund and paying for legally required highway spending, Owens said the state would have only $94 million more this year.

He wants to use the bulk of that for highways and heating assistance.

Also in competition for the extra money is the University of Colorado system that already has asked for a $41.5 million boost this year, The Herald reported.

If the governor gets his way on the $10 million heating aid, that money will come from the state’s tax on oil and fuel producers.

Rep. Tom Plant, D-Nederland, said the panel would do a thorough review of the governor’s request. He also suggested heating-bill assistance should be tied to energy-efficiency requirements for recipients, The Denver Post reported.

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