EconomyElection 2018NewsTransportation

Colorado Concern endorses ‘Fix Our Damn Roads’ measure

Author: Joey Bunch - September 12, 2018 - Updated: September 13, 2018

Mike Kopp
Mike Kopp (Photo courtesy of Colorado Concern)

The business coalition Colorado Concern  announced its support for the “Fix Our Damn Roads” ballot question Thursday.

Proposition 109, as it’s officially called, would require the Colorado legislature to prioritize spending for transportation within its existing budget rather than through new taxes as proposed by an alternative ballot measure measure.

“We believe both the bill and this approach also align with the priorities and sentiment of the public,” stated former Senate Republican leader Mike Kopp, president and CEO of Colorado Concern.

“Making use of existing state revenues is both economically feasible and we think it has strong political viability. The use of existing revenues makes it similar to an approach voters approved once before to improve roads. The state’s most recent and highly successful bond initiative, championed by Governor Owens, gained voter approval to fund the highway project list developed by the administration of his predecessor, Governor Romer,” Kopp added.

Kopp referred to the $1.7 billion in bonds for major highway and mass-transit projects in metro Denver that voters approved in 1999. The program was called T-REX for “transportation expansion.”

Fix Our Damn Roads would green-light $3.5 billion in bonds with the money going solely to the 66 highest needs in road-and-bridge expansions and repairs. The loan would be repaid over the next 20 years from the state budget, which legislators approved at more than $29 billion last spring.

> RELATED: Colorado Concern has a radio message for lawmakers: Fix roads

Efforts similar to Fix Our Damn Roads have been tried by Republicans in the General Assembly the last few years. They failed because Democrats, who hold a majority in the House, say earmarking parts of the budget to repay those bonds could hamstring the state in paying for schools and social programs when the economy tightens.

A counter measure voters will decide is Proposition 110, called Let’s Go Colorado. The proposal asks votes for a 0.62 sales tax, while providing a portion of the windfall to local communities, for transit and other measures alternative to wider lanes on to relieve congestion on Interstate 25 on the Front Range and I-70 through the mountains.

The  pro-roads position is not new for Colorado Concern, which has urged lawmakers for years to put more money into roads and bridges, talking about transportation’s vital link to the state’s economy.

“Our road infrastructure is not just important to the business community,” John Ikard, chairman of the board for Colorado Concern and longtime former CEO of FirstBank Holding Co. of Lakewood, said in a statement. “The state of our highways and bridges impacts every resident of the state. Whether it’s long commutes keeping parents away from their children, higher costs to businesses and consumers for goods due to increased congestion, or wear and tear of vehicles eating away at family budgets, this issue touches everyone.”

Added Kopp, “When voters fill out their ballots this fall, we hope they will join us in putting their state tax dollars to work on the policy area that matters so much to their daily lives.”

The Independence Institute, the Denver-based libertarian-leaning think tank that typically fights new taxes, is the primary driver behind Fix Our Damn Roads.

“I’m thrilled to see Colorado Concern endorse Fix Our Damn Roads, first because it is so fun to see respectable business people use profanity when supporting an initiative, but also because Colorado Concern is one of the most influential political groups in the state,” said Jon Caldara, the president of the Independence Institute. “Their leadership in tackling our roads issue without a tax increase brings credibility and impact.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.