Dear Gov. Ritter,
At a recent meeting of the Transportation Legislation Review Committee (TLRC), the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) presented its plan — known as the Colorado Transportation Blueprint for the New Energy Economy — to meet transportation needs, minimize climate impact and achieve energy independence. While these are all noble intentions, the means they propose to achieve these goals are radical and costly, and should be worrisome to all Coloradans.
Among the most disturbing suggestions presented by SWEEP was a plan to implement a state-funded program reminiscent of the federal Consumers Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Act, commonly known as “Cash for Clunkers.” In order to pay for this program, SWEEP proposes that state policymakers impose a fee of up to $900 annually based on a car’s fuel efficiency. This so-called fee is projected to take in an additional $540 million every year out of the pockets of working Colorado families — after they were just asked to front an additional $750 million over the next three years through the car tax (FASTER) that you signed into law earlier this year.
If there is one common theme running through all of SWEEP’s proposals, it is that the state should increase taxes and fees to punish consumers for choosing to drive their own cars. In addition to the “fuel efficiency tax” I outlined above, SWEEP also proposed a new Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Tax (where government would tax drivers for every mile they drive), a pay-as-you-drive auto insurance fee, expanded tolling and a CO2 emission fee — which would ultimately result in a second tax leveled against drivers for miles traveled.
Governor Ritter, I understand that it was legislative Democrats who invited SWEEP to present its plan before the committee, but I’d like to know where you and your administration stand on these dangerous and radical proposals.
I look forward to your response.
Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley
Cc: Director Russell George, Colorado Department of Transportation