Gov. John Hickenlooper and state legislators have made one thing clear. They won’t fix highways and bridges unless voters capitulate on a tax hike. Shiny new buildings for the Department of Transportation, yes. Roads and bridges, no.
Politicians hope voters will get so tired of potholes, traffic jams and crashes they will vote for new taxes in return for getting state government to conduct one its most fundamental roles.
House Bill 1242, with bipartisan support, would ask voters to increase the state sales tax from 2.9 cents to 3.5 cents. As a concession to Republicans, the bill redirects $50 million in existing revenues to transportation and reduces vehicle registration fees by $75 million a year. The net gain for transportation is $677 million annually for 20 years, beginning in January.
Here’s what it would look like in Colorado Springs. City taxpayers fork over a combined sales tax of 8.25 cents each time they spend a dollar. If statewide voters pass the tax hike, the combined sales tax in Colorado Springs goes to 8.87 cents on the dollar.