In a state that has seen its population jump from 4.3 million people in 2000 to an estimated 5.6 million today, it only stands to reason that how an ever-larger number of residents get from one point to another is a big issue.
This spring, members of the Colorado State Legislature, noting studies that forecast Colorado’s population at around 7 million by the year 2030, passed a bill approving some $645 million to be spent on a variety of transportation projects in the next two years.
But both state and local officials have said that that money won’t come close to what is needed for ongoing highway expansion, road upgrading, and the construction of new lanes and guard rails across Colorado.
In response, a move is underway to collect a minimum of 160,000 signatures needed for putting on this coming November’s ballot a proposal calling for a .62 cents state sales tax increase, with a life span of 20 years.
Revenue from that tax, say advocates of a campaign that has already generated just under 100,000 signatures, would be supplemented by up to $6 billion in Colorado Department of Transportation bonds also to be used for transportation infrastructure projects.
Around 85 percent of the combined revenues would then go for a mix of state, municipal, and country transportation projects. The remaining 15 percent would fund multi-modal projects across Colorado.
The move to increase the sales tax has won the support of a coalition of civic and business groups, including most prominently the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Advocates of the increased Colorado sales tax also say they think voters may be particularly receptive to a feature requiring the tax’s proceeds to go to a dedicated revenue stream, meaning it won’t be used for other purposes.
By Garry Boulard
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