Colorado bill would continue borrowing to pay for highway work

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, April 23, 2015

An effort underway at the Colorado statehouse would move the state one step closer to renewing a bond sale for transportation work that is set to be paid off next year. Voters would get the final say.

First sold in 1999, the bonds have been used to fund the “T-Rex” Interstate 25 improvement project in Denver and to pay for more than two dozen other major projects.

Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, introduced a $3.5 billion highway funding bill that would continue to rely on the bonds to get needed road and bridge work done over the next 20 years.

The bill includes a list of more than 50 priority projects that would benefit from the bond extension.

Advocates say that continuing to use bonds would allow statewide road projects to get done without resorting to tax or fee increases.

Critics, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, say they have concerns about adding more debt to the state. Instead, the governor has a plan that would rely on transferring $200 million annually from the state’s general fund to pay for road work.

The bill, SB272, is in the Senate Transportation Committee. If the bill makes it through the statehouse and gets the governor’s signature, it would be placed on the state’s November 2015 ballot.

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