If we want to be the best, we need to lead in Colorado.
One way to get started is right before us.
Talking about the hospital provider fee on the second floor of the Capitol is about as popular as the Oakland Raiders.
BUT it’s a sensible way to solve some of our problems, though it won’t solve all of them.
Let’s see if we can take a fresh look at the hospital provider fee itself, and see if it can be modified as a vehicle to control costs, to build more transparency and accountability and better serve rural clinics and hospitals.
We can free up the money we already have, from existing revenue, to begin building the infrastructure we need to support our growth.
Over the next decade, Colorado has $9 billion dollars of unmet transportation needs, and that need will only grow.
Voters are tired of us kicking the can down the road, because they know it’s going to land in a pothole.
In our neighboring state of Utah, infrastructure investment is a priority.
Utah has about half as many people as Colorado but invests four times what we do to expand their road capacity every year.
It’s economics 101: smart investments in infrastructure create jobs and strengthen the economy.
Two years ago, on the west steps of the Capitol, we said it was time for a continuous third lane on I-25 from Wyoming to New Mexico.
This past summer, working with local officials, we secured $15 million in federal funds to help build a new express lane from Fort Collins to Loveland.
And just last week, CDOT leveraged funding to start the planning process to add a third lane from Castle Rock to Monument.
This means that the required planning will be completed in under three years.
These are good first steps, but the cost of construction to bring I-25 into the modern world is still over $2 billion.
That’s more than CDOT’s total annual budget, which is almost entirely dedicated to maintenance.
We’re already squeezing every penny out of our transportation revenue but efficiencies can only get us so far.
With the gas tax unchanged since 1992, more fuel efficient cars and normal inflation: it’s basic math. It’s a funding problem.
We’ve had this debate for too long.
If talk could fill potholes we’d have the best roads in the country.
But the General Fund cannot adequately support the demands of core government services and capacity improvements in transportation.
There are some who believe we can pay for our infrastructure needs through cuts alone. But that can only happen if we demand major sacrifices from Coloradans.
If that’s what you want, introduce that bill. Make that case.
Tell us who loses healthcare or what schools have to close to add a mile of highway.
Coloradans share our desire to make these investments.
They know that our future economy demands a modern infrastructure.
Let’s examine all our options. Whether it’s new revenue, simplifying or replacing old tax streams, or a combination of both.
We can find a solution that clearly spells out to Coloradans exactly what they’re getting and how the money will be spent.
And how that funding can benefit rural and urban communities, support local needs and statewide projects, and balance transit options with highway expansions.
Lincoln once said: “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts…and beer.”
Let’s decide what we take to voters in November, and let’s make our case to the public…”