(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

DENVER — A vote on a bill to put at least $300 million into transportation each year was delayed for another day in the Colorado Senate Tuesday. They could vote on Wednesday.

A revenue forecast that indicated the state is flush with money from its booming economy and more proposed amendments from Democrats prompted the third delay in a week.

“We really want to give everyone an opportunity to review those amendments and again encourage the dialogue that’s going on,” said Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert of Parker. “What a great problem to have of more money than expected with Senate Bill 1.”

Democrats are expected to ask for more time, possibly delaying a decision until next session to see how any ballot issues play out in November, while Republicans might be willing to ask for less money from the budget with a smaller share of the state’s sales tax revenue, sources tell Colorado Politics.

Republicans have a one-seat majority in the chamber, so they have killed a series of amendments from Democrats so far. Democrats have engaged in a filibuster-length discussion — partly because they don’t like Senate Bill 1 and partly to make a statement about the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, who is accused of sexual harassment.

Democrats want a hearing to expel Baumgardner over allegedly slapping a Democratic aide on the buttocks. He has denied the allegation.

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DENVER — Monday, March 19, 2018 — The Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) today released its quarterly economic and revenue forecast.

General Fund revenue is experiencing additional expected growth compared to the December 2017 revenue forecast. General Fund revenue is forecast to increase 12.9 percent in FY 2017-18. General Fund revenue is projected to increase at a modest 3.2 percent in FY 2018-19 due to lower employment growth in a tight labor market and as income tax revenue grows more slowly.

“Today’s economic forecast is good news and gives us a chance to put additional dollars toward transportation and education,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “Our proposal outlines a one-time $500 million allocation to the $9 billion transportation project list, $200 million to education and the remainder to address other pressing issues the legislature is considering.”

Along with the new revenue forecast, the OSPB delivered a letter to the Joint Budget Committee outlining Gov. Hickenlooper’s plan for allocating new revenue.

In FY 2018-19, the Governor’s plan calls for one-time infusions of $500 million to transportation and $200 million to K-12 education. Of the one-time money available, this leaves $96 million for other priorities under debate this legislative session.

In FY 2019-20, the Governor’s plan calls for allocations as follows:

  • Transportation: $150 million
  • K-12 Education: $100 million to the State Education Fund
  • Water Infrastructure: $15 million
  • State Buildings: $15 million for controlled maintenance or capital renewal
  • Affordable Housing: $10 million
  • Broadband: $10 million

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Click here for the full Revenue and Economic Forecast from the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting.

Colorado Politics

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce will submit paperwork Friday to get on the ballot in November with a sales tax to fund transportation across the state.

The chamber leads a statewide coalition proposing one of three potential requests to voters: for 0.50 cents, for 0.62 cents or a full penny, Chamber President Kelly Brough told Colorado Politics.

She said which question amount would depend on the state revenue forecast that comes out in mid-March, as well as the outcome of the current legislative session; lawmakers are considering legislation to put more money from the state budget into transportation.

“We think it’s important to find out what the state can contribute before we finalize what the right number is to ask voters to finish the work,” she said.

The half-cent sales tax is expected to raise about $500 million a year — 45 percent for interstates and state roads, 40 percent for cities and counties and 15 percent for transit.

Colorado’s state sales tax is one of the lowest in the country, 2.9 percent, but municipalities can tack on as much as they can get voters to approve to support local needs.Thirty-seven municipalities in the state already have effective sales tax rates of more than 8 percent, led by Winter Park at 11.2 cents and Silverton at 10.4. The proposed sales tax would land on top of existing taxes.

To get on the ballot, the measure needs 98,492 signatures in six months, which represents 5 percent of the total votes cast in the last secretary of state’s race.

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Farm Bureau

February 5, 2018

Infrastructure was a significant topic of discussion during the president’s 2018 State of the Union address. The administration has been teasing an infrastructure plan for over a year, but this year’s SOTU, as well as documents released and leaked from the White House, add some meat to the bone, and begin to tell us what an infrastructure plan might ultimately mean for rural America. Based on the outline, rural America should perk up.

During the SOTU the president acknowledged the poor state of infrastructure in the United States and promised to help advance a plan that would generate at least a $1.5 trillion investment to rebuild and repair basically all things that move America. The speech was limited in detail, it was the SOTU after all, but immediately following the speech the White House released a two-page press document that gave a few more details.

The release highlighted that one out of every five miles of U.S. highway pavement is in poor condition. And in rural America don’t we know it. According to the Department of Transportation’s latest Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit report, 74% of the nation’s bridges, 73% of the 4 million miles of public roads, and 33% of all vehicle miles traveled are in rural areas. When our roads and bridges are in disrepair, we feel it.

The latest figures floating put federal funds for infrastructure upgrades at $200 billion. While $200 billion is a lot of money, it doesn’t take a math whiz to realize that it’s a far cry from the $1.5 trillion investment mentioned during the SOTU. That means states will be incentivized to work with local and private investment partners for completion and operation of projects under this program. Many transportation experts have highlighted over the years that public-private partnerships are most attractive in large population centers with lots of vehicle miles. In other words, perhaps not a great fit, by and large, for addressing rural transportation issues.

However, the release also laid out the president’s plan to dedicate 25 percent of the federal funds for rural infrastructure needs, prioritized by state and local leaders. These funds will go toward rebuilding roads, providing clean water to rural families and businesses, expanding broadband access, and supplying affordable, reliable power. If we assume the federal funds available will indeed be $200 billion, rural America could see a $25 billion infrastructure injection.

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Americans for Transportation Mobility

America’s infrastructure is being surpassed by other nations. Additionally, investment in transportation has dropped as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as population and maintenance needs and congestion impacts grow.

The American public and the business community support increased investment in infrastructure and transportation stakeholders are urging expedient policies from President Trump and Congress.

Mike Mota, Vice President of Engineering for the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI), says our infrastructure needs to be rebuilt now. CRSI is a member of the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), which is another important player advocating for recharged federal infrastructure legislation and a better transportation system.

Sign the petition and share this story with your friends on social media.

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“We’ve gained 800,000 people in the last decade and yet … we’re spending less now than we spent in 2007. If you have growth and a funding problem — you have trouble,” Hickenlooper said, adding that CDOT has $9 billion worth of needed projects, but doesn’t have the money to pay for them.

Colorado needs to invest more money in its transportation infrastructure — or risk the state’s growing economy choking on traffic congestion, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday.

Hickenlooper spoke at the 2017 Colorado Transportation Matters Summit, organized by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Transit Alliance.

The summit, which drew 1,000 people from the state’s agencies and businesses that work on highways and transit networks, was held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center.

Colorado has invested in the state’s infrastructure and education in the past, and seen it pay off in the form of a booming economy and low unemployment, Hickenlooper told the luncheon crowd.

But “transportation has been a prickly problem” for the state and one marked by a divide between urban and rural legislators, he said.

But the basic facts remain the same: Colorado’s roads and highways are aging and the state’s gasoline tax, 22 cents per gallon, hasn’t been raised since 1992.

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Listen to Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President Kelly Brough…

Worn out roads and bridges in Colorado cost businesses time and money, according to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. So it plans to lead a campaign to raise the sales tax to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements.

Tax increases in Colorado require voter approval, and Chamber President Kelly Brough tells Colorado Matters her group aims to put a tax measure on the ballot in 2018. She does not yet know how big of an increase they will ask for.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates each Coloradan spends an extra $287 a year on average on repairs and operating costs due to driving on roads that need to be fixed. But while there’s broad agreement in Colorado that more money should be put towards transportation infrastructure, there isn’t agreement on whether that requires a tax increase.

A state legislature committee decided not to refer a tax measure to voters this past spring, and the Chamber’s proposal may compete with another proposed ballot measure that would force lawmakers to take money from other state programs to put it towards transportation.

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Move made after legislature fails to send funding measure to ballot

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce will pursue a ballot initiative next year to boost state transportation funding after the state legislature failed to send voters a measure to raise $3.5 billion for roads and transit this year.

“We ask everyone to help get this done,” president and CEO Kelly Brough told a crowd of more than 1,000 members gathered Wednesday for the chamber’s annual meeting at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center.

Brough, in an interview after the announcement, said specifics are still being worked on with several other groups, but she hinted that the size and scope of the hard-fought but failed House Bill 1242 offers a starting point.

“We will wrestle with the question of how much revenue,” she said.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham, sought to increase the statewide sales tax to 3.52 percent from 2.9 percent for 20 years to raise $3.5 billion for transportation funding.

But Senate conservatives, opposed in principle to tax increases and state spending priorities, contributed to the bill’s demise late in the session, ending what backers had hailed as a grand bargain between Republicans and Democrats to address a critical need.

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MoveColorado would like to express its appreciation to Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham for his sponsorship of HB 17-1242.  His impassioned words prior to the final vote in the Senate Finance Committee were spot on.

“We do worry about the Balkanization of our state roads system. If Colorado Springs and then northern Colorado and other RTAs start passing their own [funding and development plans], there will be donut holes throughout the state that will be left out of improvements and will never get the improvements that are needed. Maybe that’s the preferred solution for some. It’s not for me… But that is the direction we are heading, and I think it’s a dangerous one…”

“I don’t know what would happen if it went to the people… But I know, without a doubt, that if it doesn’t get on the ballot, then it will definitely never pass. We only get so many bites at the apple — I’ve heard that a lot today — but if the number of bites we get is exactly zero, then zero is the result we will get.”

The session’s unloved grand bipartisan transportation measure, House Bill 1242, is dead, but the closing remarks — you might say the sickbed epitaph — delivered for the bill by Republican sponsor and Senate President Kevin Grantham are worth revisiting, especially given that, in the last week, and with a little more than a week left in the legislative session, three new transportation-related bills have been introduced.

Grantham spoke right before the bill was dispatched Tuesday by the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, addressing the bill and its critics with words that might come to resonate beyond the committee hearing, even if in a ghostlike way, floating into remarks made years from now by lawmakers begging please for someone somehow to expand I-25 south of Castle Rock or to find a way to get their aged mother or father to the doctor in the middle of the day.

Grantham said running this year’s bill was a brave and bold move. He said the bill was unloved on the left and the right because drumming up billions for much-needed transportation upgrades in a politically and ideologically divided swing state was always going to be — and is long likely going to be — a slog.

He said people in the Capitol have to begin seeing transportation in new ways, and doing that is hard to do. He suggested that the long era of roads and more roads and single-occupancy privately owned vehicles no longer serves the population of the state the way it once did — and particularly the state’s younger and older populations — and that transit, meaning mass-transit, is popular with residents even if it’s unpopular with lawmakers.

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House Bill 1242 and Senate Bill 267, two top issues are on life support, their sponsors say

The Colorado legislative session’s top priority, a major transportation bill that seeks a tax hike to improve and expand highways, is unlikely to win approval this term.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Cañon City Republican and one of the prime sponsors, announced Thursday morning that he does not have the votes to move it through the GOP-led chamber.

“At this point, we can’t count to three,” he said, describing the number of votes he needs to advance it through the Senate Finance Committee next week.

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NORTHGLENN, CO – APRIL 1: Cars drive northbound on I-25 with the new express toll lane, indicated by the double white line, on April 1, 2016, in Northglenn, Colorado. CDOT officially opened the I-25 North express toll lane on Monday. Construction is still underway on a concrete sound barrier wall that runs alongside the interstate. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/The Denver Post)