Colorado governor mum on increasing fuel tax for roads

| 8/16/2007

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter is keeping his cards close to his vest when it comes to talk about increasing the state’s fuel tax rates to pay for road work.

The Democratic governor said he is withholding comment so that his opinion doesn’t pre-empt the work of a transportation panel he appointed this year. The panel was put together to consider all options for maintaining roads. It is scheduled to offer recommendations to Ritter in November.

Officials with the Colorado Department of Transportation estimate it will cost $65 billion to maintain the existing system of roads and bridges through 2030. Another $40 billion is needed to make improvements to keep pace with population growth, The Denver Post reported.

The agency’s current fiscal year budget is $1 billion while the overall state budget is more than $17 billion.

In addition to the fuel tax, other funding proposals drawing discussion include increasing the sales and income tax rates, as well as creating a tax on lodging and auto rentals. Charging drivers a tax on vehicle miles traveled is another idea.

Many members of the Blue Ribbon Transportation Panel say there is little hope to raise revenues without boosting tax rates, The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported.

Any effort to increase taxes in the state would need to pass muster with voters before it could take effect. Voters rejected the most recent attempt to raise the fuel tax in 1998.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Colorado in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor