Governor Polis signs $3.8 billion transportation bill

PROMO 64J1 Sign - Construction Road Work - iStock - jakes47s
Published Friday, June 18, 2021
by Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - Colorado Governor Jared Polis has signed a massive transportation funding bill that will increase fees on drivers and consumers by $3.8 billion, bypassing the state Taxpayer Bill of Rights. 

Senate Bill 21-260 creates several new fees on things like road use, electric vehicle registrations, retail deliveries and ride-shares. Lawmakers say the legislation will fund "shovel-ready" road projects as well as multimodal transportation and electrification projects.

Polis called the legislation "a comprehensive solution" that "will finally fix the damn roads here in Colorado."

The legislation's backers argued the state needed an update to how it funds transportation as vehicles become more fuel efficient and electric vehicles become more popular.  

"The best part about this bill is that it not only fixes many of the immediate needs - like Floyd Hill, where we are today - but it lays the groundwork for a framework to fix the structural problems that got us into the problem areas where we are today, to have a long-term, sustainable revenue plan, accountability and planning" said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder.

The state currently funds transportation through a 22-cent gas tax, which hasn't changed since 1991. 

Instead of asking Colorado voters to approve of tax increases to fund transportation under TABOR, Democratic lawmakers opted to use fees that aren't subject to voter approval, which drew strong rebuke from Republicans and taxpayer watchdogs. 

The conservative advocacy groups Americans for Prosperity-Colorado and Colorado Rising State Action arepursuing a ballot measure that would ask voters to lower the state's gas tax in response to SB 21-260. 

"If legislators want to go that route and ignore the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and Prop 117, then we will gladly include voters in the discussion with this ballot question," Colorado Rising State Action Executive Director Michael Fields previously said.

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