‘Let’s Go, Colorado’ transportation measure makes fall ballot
Author: Colorado Politics - August 23, 2018 - Updated: August 23, 2018
Voters in November will decide among two visions of how to fix Colorado’s neglected transportation problems.
Backers of Initiative 153 gathered enough signatures to place the measure on the fall ballot, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said Thursday.
The measure — nicknamed “Let’s Go, Colorado” — would increase the state’s sales-and-use tax rate by 0.62 percentage points from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent.
The extra tax revenue would finance bonds for up to $6 billion for road and highway improvements, as well as transit projects. A cut of the money would go to local governments to use on their needs.
If voters approve, 45 percent of the windfall would go to the Colorado Department of Transportation, local governments would get 40 percent and the rest would go to multimodal projects to reduce traffic congestion.
The measure is backed by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Contractors Association, the Colorado Metro Mayors Caucus and Club 20, the Western Colorado advocacy group, as well as other civic and business groups statewide.
“Coloradans deserve a solution to our growing transportation crisis that is guaranteed to generate the revenue to address long-neglected projects in every corner of our state,” Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet, a Republican, said in a statement Thursday. “Proposition 110 is the only measure on this year’s ballot that can fund the transportation safety, capacity and mobility improvements that our citizens and businesses are demanding. Plus, it empowers local communities to tackle our toughest transportation challenges. Proposition 110 is the answer Colorado needs.”
Williams’ office determined that supporters submitted 195,499 valid voter signatures, based on a review of a portion of the petitions submitted — well over the 98,492 needed to qualify for the ballot.
Backers on Aug. 6 said they had submitted 198,261 signatures in 135 boxes to Williams’ office.
News of Initiative 153’s success in making the ballot comes just a day after a rival measure also was cleared to be placed before voters.
Unlike Initiative 153, the competing measure — dubbed “Fix Our Damn Roads” — does not call for a tax hike. Instead it would require the state legislature to prioritize spending for transportation with existing sales tax revenue.
“The Western Slope has been promised transportation solutions for many years but the reality is that the state funds aren’t there – and won’t be there without the common-sense solution that Proposition 110 offers,” stated Christian Reece, executive director of Club 20 civic and business coalition of Western Colorado counties. “We can’t tie our economic future to more promises or proposals driven by narrow ideology. We need a solution that truly addresses transportation problems that have lingered for years, and that requires new, dedicated revenue. It’s basic math and basic common sense. ”
The counter measure, which made the ballot a day earlier, is called “Fix Our Damn Roads.” It would force the legislature to put more money into roads and bridges, especially resolving traffic jams and public safety, without allocations for transit and unspecified local projects.
The measure is backed by the Independence Institute, a Denver-based conservative think tank, and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. Some municipal leaders, such as Suthers, argue that cities need to be prudent in asking voter to raise taxes to meet local needs, as Colorado Springs has done twice in the past three years.
Suthers has said the return on investment for supporting a statewide tax hike doesn’t make it worth it for local leaders who are willing to take the political risk of asking their voters to support local projects.
Besides Initiative 153, Colorado voters will decide another tax issue: Amendment 93, which would raise $1.6 billion for education by boosting the corporate tax rate and income taxes on people who earn more than $150,000 a year.