Voters have a choice of methods to fund the needed improvements for Colorado’s highways, with a choice of results. Use a large amount of existing general fund revenues, which may be needed for other uses, and provide for $3.5 billion in construction bonding. Or, raise the state’s sales tax by .62 percent for 20 years to do $6 billion or double the work and make really meaningful improvements.
We like the latter. With a state gasoline tax which hasn’t budged since 1992, highway needs have grown in recent years to the point that an estimated $9 billion in significant work needs to be done.
“Let’s Go Colorado” has the answer, the citizen-initiated Proposition 110 on the November ballot.
Proposition 110, which adds to the sales tax, offers an appealing mix of support, actually providing a greater percentage of money to counties and municipalities when multimodal transportation is included than to state highways (55 percent vs 45 percent). That is because local governments have road construction needs, too, and know their multimodal desires.
It makes no sense to provide major highways without making it possible for drivers to reach them efficiently and safely.
For those wanting to ride a bike rather than drive short distances, at least occasionally, 110 contains provisions for bike lanes and paths. That is the present and the future.
A .62 percent increase in the sales tax is 62 cents on a $100 purchase, and with that, up to $6 billion in bonding would be possible. First-year revenues are expected to be about $767 million, with the additional sales tax ending in 2039.
“Fix our damn roads,” the citizen-initiated Proposition 109, would take about $350 million from the general fund annually for 20 years to support $3.5 billion in bonding to address portions of the most congested highways.
State tax revenues are healthy this year and will likely be next year and $350 million could be available, but there is no guarantee that will continue. Economies run in cycles. And, with public school funding, and Medicaid, the state should not be in the position of having to decide between those two critical categories and many other smaller programs supported by the general fund, in order to meet a bond payment for highways.
Much better to have a designated sales tax to support roads.
Colorado is one of the most appealing states for work and play. Its blue skies, rivers and mountains attract newcomers to jobs in high tech, aeronautics and medicine, all of whom are sharing the state’s highways and roads with those who have been here for some time.
Work on those roads has been overdue. A dedicated sales tax increase would go a long way toward meeting the state’s infrastructure needs.
We vote YES on Proposition 110 and NO on Proposition 109 for the significant road improvements all of Colorado requires.