Coloradans would pay 6 extra cents on every $10 purchase under transportation tax proposal |

Coloradans would pay 6 extra cents on every $10 purchase under transportation tax proposal

Scott Franz
Eric Marsh, operations manager for Connell Resources, and Colorado Department of Transportation project manager Debbie McLain work on a preliminary survey for highway improvements on U.S. Highway 40 that were done in 2014.
John F. Russell

— A proposal to raise the state’s sales tax rate to pay for transportation improvements is still cruising along in the state legislature.

The bipartisan proposal passed the House Finance Committee on Tuesday with a 10-3 vote.

The measure, which would have to be approved by voters, would raise the sales tax rate by 0.62 percent to generate about $695 million annually for the state’s transportation system.

Taxpayers would pay an extra six cents for every $10 they spend if the ballot initiative passes.

The state would have an influx of new revenue to use to tackle some high priority projects. And the plan calls for local governments to get a slice of the pie to use on their own transportation projects.

Northwest Colorado’s two state legislators, Diane Mitsch Busch, D-Steamboat Springs, and Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, are both backing the bill.

“Our state is operating with a revenue scheme last adjusted in the early 1990s, even though the cost of road construction has gone up significantly,” Mitsch Bush said after the bill passed the Finance Committee. “We need new, sustainable and predictable transportation revenue to bolster Colorado’s competitive edge.”

State lawmakers fear Colorado is falling behind other states such as Utah in terms of the quality of its transportation system.

A stagnant gas tax does not allow the state to keep up with new demands.

About $375 million of the new sales tax revenue would be used to bond and pay for tier 1 Colorado Department of Transportation projects around the state. (Think additional lanes on Interstate 70 in the mountains and larger, more impactful projects along highways and interstates.)

Of the remainder, 70 percent will go to local governments, so they can address their most pressing needs.

In Northwest Colorado, some examples of these tier 1 projects include the addition of shoulders and passing lanes on Colorado Highway 13 and U.S. 40 east and west of Kremmling.

This chunk of new money from the sales tax increase could be used to bond as much as $3.5 billion worth of projects, statewide.

“I feel really good about this bill,” Mitsch Bush told Steamboat Today earlier this month. “It has something for everyone in the state. Rural. Urban. And local control is a key part of the bill. We worked so hard on this.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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