Colorado transportation panel proposes tax and fee increases

| 11/26/2007

A special panel in Colorado is calling for five tax and fee increases to help pay for transportation projects throughout the state. They can be considered by the Legislature during the session that begins in January 2008.

The Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter has decided the state should raise $1.5 billion a year for roads and transit. The group recommended the state boost a combination of fees and the fuel, sales and severance taxes, the Rocky Mountain News reported.

The state’s transportation budget is about $1 billion a year. It can be used for roads and other needs.

Commission members are calling for a 13-cent-per-gallon increase in the state’s fuel tax rates and a provision to allow it to increase annually with inflation. Currently, the diesel tax is 20.5 cents-per-gallon and the gas tax is 22 cents-per-gallon.

Another option being touted is to increase the sales and use tax by about one-third of a cent and boost the natural resources severance tax on companies that extract minerals from the ground by 1.7 percent. Increasing vehicle registration fees by $100 a year also has been suggested.

About $540 million of revenues would go for maintenance and safety efforts intended to increase road surfaces, reduce traffic congestion, fix shoulders and maintain bridges. Another $290 million would go for local projects while nearly $110 million would be used for transit and other projects.

The panel also recommended further study into a fee-per-mile-driven program for motorists. The program would replace charging a fuel tax.

Ritter must decide whether to pursue putting the tax-increase proposals on the 2008 ballot. Voters rejected the most recent attempt to raise the fuel tax in 1998.

The vehicle registration fee increase would not require voter approval.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor