Voters in Colorado rejected a statewide initiative – Amendment 52 – that called for routing a portion of the state’s severance tax for road and bridge work. It was intended to dedicate any additional revenue the state generates from the tax and use it to help pay for repair projects, with a focus on Interstate 70.
State law now mandates that increases in severance taxes be deposited into the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Voters were asked to decide whether to reroute the funds to the new Colorado Transportation Trust Fund.
Once the results were tallied, 64 percent of voters were opposed to making more money available to transportation at the expense of water projects.
Supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment suggested this week that they might return it to the ballot as a statutory amendment. The change would permit the Colorado General Assembly to approve the rerouting without relying on voters.
The issue of road funding in Colorado has taken on greater significance in recent weeks as Gov. Bill Ritter warned that the state’s budget could be slashed by one-third in 2009-2010. Reasons cited include a struggling national and global economy. Also blamed were decreased federal funding and state transportation revenues.
The governor’s plan would trim $428 million from transportation spending next year, down from the current $1.3 billion.
The General Assembly will consider Ritter’s proposal when they gather for the 2009 regular session. House and Senate lawmakers are likely to make modifications to the plan in an effort to approve the budget next spring.
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