It all comes down to the money, and who pays.
To the Democrats who introduced and supported Senate Bill 260, it not only addresses the state’s transportation issues now, but also years into the future.
For Republicans who don’t support the bill, it’s just another hand dipping into the pockets of the average Coloradan.
The measure, which is now one step away from reaching the governor’s office, would impose numerous fees on gasoline sales, delivery trucks, taxi-type services and electric vehicles.
All with the goal of raising nearly $ 3.4 billion over the next decade.
House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, said most of that money is going where gasoline taxes are now going, to fund traditional road and bridge projects.
Garnett, who said no one outside the Capitol is against the bill, said the measure also looks to the future and aims to help the state’s transition when most motorists use vehicles electric.
“It anticipates the future, and that’s what the legislation should do,” Garnett said moments before Colorado House approved the bill in a 41-24 party line vote. . âWe have to anticipate where we are going to go. All these local officials are saying, “We need something,” and Senate Bill 260 is a very good step forward. “
Republicans, however, say this is not what taxpayers want today, nor something that is conducive to today’s reality.
âOur company is not really prepared for the multimodal transportation that is expected with this bill,â said Representative Matt Soper, R-Delta. âIf our cities developed differently, we might have a different conversation. Our cities have developed around the automobile and we must respect the automobile.
Because of this, Republicans say the money should only be spent on traditional road projects, which Democrats reject, but quickly add that most of it will be anyway.
âThis invests $ 800 million in repairing our rural roads,â Garnett said. â$ 2.5 billion is going to the Highway Users Trust Fund (HUTF) with the same formula we have always had, with local governments receiving a large portion of that dollars to meet the needs of their communities. “
The HUTF is the state’s main current account used to finance transport projects. But Democrats and some Republicans argue its durability has waned over the years, mainly because it comes from the 29-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax that hasn’t changed since 1991.
GOP lawmakers also lamented part of the bill that repeals part of a 2018 law that called for a ballot measure asking voters to approve the issuance of millions of dollars of bonds to pay for bills. transport, but nearly two-thirds of voters did so in two electoral measures that same year.
Republicans are also wondering how much money the measure will cost individual motorists, including those who operate businesses that use state roads.
A demographic analysis of the bill by the non-partisan Legislative Council, the research and endowment arm of the Legislature, estimates that the average motorist will pay about $ 1,000 more per year, but that’s fair with a increase in what he will pay at the pump. (The bill imposes a fee of 8 cents per gallon by 2028.)
Everyone, not just motorists, will likely see additional costs when they rent vehicles, use a delivery service, or hire a cab, according to Republicans.
“I think we understand our people too strongly,” said parliamentary minority leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland.
âPeople say, ‘How are we going to pay these bills? How are we now going to pay the extra charges on this and that and that and that? If in a year or two people haven’t seen the benefits of their tripsâ¦ we’ve failed, âMcKean said.
The bill requires a final Senate vote before it can be presented to the governor.