Caldara’s alternative transportation-funding proposal lands a Title Board hearing

Author: John Tomasic - April 12, 2017 - Updated: April 14, 2017

Jon Caldara (Screen shot via The Independence Institute)
Jon Caldara (Screen shot via The Independence Institute)

The dead serious transportation-funding ballot initiative submitted by Colorado political prankster Jon Caldara is scheduled to land before the state Title Board next week Wednesday.

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, April 19, at 9:30 A.M., at the Secretary of State’s office.

It’s difficult to imagine that no one plans to mount a legal challenge against the initiative at the hearing. Indeed, it’s much easier to imagine the state Speaker of the House or Senate President lying across the office doorway barring entrance!

Caldara, head of the libertarian Independence Institute in Denver, launched his “Fix Our Damn Roads” initiative effort last month. The initiative would ask voters to approve a plan that would see the state issue $2.5 billion in bonds to fund road and bridge upgrades — the bond debt paid through the state budget. In other words, no new taxes.

The proposal comes as a response and direct challenge to a legislative plan authored by House Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, and Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Canon City Republican. Their House Bill 1242 would ask voters to hike the state’s sales tax to 3.52 percent from 2.9 percent.

Most Republicans in the Legislature oppose the plan. Caldara has made no secret of the fact that he loathes it.

But the bill is working its way through the Capitol. It passed the House last month and it passed its first Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.

Caldara’s initiative is racing forward, too, on its uphill journey to the ballot. Once his initiative gets past the Title Board, which could take a while if there’s a challenge, Caldara will have to gather and submit 98,492 valid resident signatures to the Secretary of State’s office by August 7 — at 3:00 p.m.

Caldara is a practiced ballot initiative proponent. He runs them at roughly the same pace he drinks pints of beer — probably too often to be good for his health.

Correction: The original post reported that Caldara’s initiative proposed to make a constitutional change. In fact, it proposes to make a statutory change. The petition-gathering bar is lower for those kinds of changes. Read the updated post.

But this year, the task is more difficult than in the past.

Voters last year passed Amendment 71, which, as its proponents put it, “raised the bar”: To land a measure on the ballot this year, proponents must gather signatures from 2 percent of registered voters in each of the state’s 35 Senate districts and, for an initiative to pass into law, it has to win the support of 55 percent of voters, up from a simple majority.

John Tomasic

John Tomasic

John Tomasic is a senior political reporter for The Colorado Statesman covering the Colorado Legislature.


  • SK

    April 12, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    71 only applies to constitutional amendments. Propositions don’t have to meet the new, higher threshold.

  • KK

    April 14, 2017 at 8:38 am

    It has been reported that House Bill 1242 uses only 1/3 of the money it raises for the purpose of repairing roads.

    The other 2 thirds goes for public transport and bicycle projects. Caldara has the right idea.

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