Westword

The tax is expected to generate around $767 million in year one and likely more in succeeding years over the next two decades. Of that amount, Duffy says, “45 cents of each dollar would go to the state transportation fund, and 40 cents would be split between counties and municipalities for projects to be identified and accountable locally — and that’s important, because all of us usually start or finish our day on a local or county road. They need work, too, so local officials will be able to sit down and have a conversation about what needs to be done. And the other 15 percent is for multi-modal projects like transit stations and senior dial-a-ride to address senior mobility, which is a real problem in rural areas.”

According to Sean Duffy, spokesman for Let’s Go Colorado, one of the most important aspects of the sales-tax increase designed to fund Proposition 110 is its limitations.

“The money is walled off, so it can’t be used for anything but transportation projects,” he says. “Because the worst thing you can do is put a pot of money near politicians and say, ‘Don’t touch.'”

Duffy portrays Proposition 110 as “a very straightforward request of Colorado taxpayers.” But the ballot title and submission clause shared on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website is a bit of a thicket. It reads…

Here’s how Duffy describes the genesis of the proposal:

Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet speaks about Proposition 110 during a Let’s Go Colorado rally on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol.

Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet speaks about Proposition 110 during a Let’s Go Colorado rally on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol.

“We all recognize that our transportation system, our roads, our bridges, are in need of significant attention, whether it’s repair or expansion,” he notes. “For example, we now invest half of what we did for motorists that we did 25 years ago, even though, obviously, the population has gone up very significantly since then, and lane miles in the state have basically flat-lined. It’s like trying to put a tennis ball through a garden hose.”

In the past, most road-improvement measures have been funded by a gas tax, Duffy points out — “but today, that’s a problem. We’ve seen an increase in the fuel efficiency of cars, and the rise of electric cars makes a gas tax a decreasingly efficient approach. We’d need a phenomenal tax increase to make it work: something like thirty or forty cents a gallon. And it’s only going to get worse.”

With that in mind, he continues, “a big coalition of business folks and elected folks [led by the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce] said, ‘We’ve really got to find a dedicated, sustainable source of transportation funding.’ Just at the state level, there’s a $9 billion hole in project needs that the Colorado Department of Transportation has identified. And when you look at the state level, where we’ve got priorities like public safety and schools and higher education and prisons, we haven’t been able to come up with the dollars we need. So they’ve proposed a .62 percent tax increase, about six cents on a ten-dollar purchase, to go to transportation.”

Read on…