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Colorado lawmakers considering new gas tax fee to boost money for roads ahead of legislative session – – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado 2021-01-07 04:37:00 –

Each year, Colorado General Assembly members of both parties make finding funding for road and transportation projects a top priority, confirming that large-scale transactions will be curtailed or, in many cases, completely collapsed. doing.

“We’re Charlie Brown and we want to get that football,” said Matt Gray, a Democratic State legislature at Bloomfield. “I know if I do that, but I’m not going to stop it because the current system isn’t sustainable and it’s difficult to fix the problem unless it’s fixed every year.”

The optimistic view of boosting state transportation funding has returned prior to the 2021 legislative meeting, with Gray saying “it’s gaining more momentum than we’ve seen in the three years we’ve worked on it.”

The proposals currently on the table will add a fee to the purchase of a gallon of gas. The levy is in addition to the state petrol tax, which is 22 cents per gallon.

In addition, lawmakers also want to inject existing taxes into the state’s discretionary spending account, known as general funding, for transportation projects.

The third factor that remains as part of the negotiations is the road usage fee, which drivers pay based on the number of miles they drive instead of fuel tax, Gray said.

The driver’s gasoline tax and road usage fee are undecided. Mr Gray said the bill for the start of the session on January 13 has not been drafted, but he is confident that it will come true and progress.

Similarly, Gray calls it “a political issue as much as an infrastructure issue,” and it remains uncertain how much money the law will generate for roads and transportation.

“It’s obviously delicate,” Gray said. “There are many ways that can go wrong, but there is also a lot of momentum.”

One of the changes driving potential deals is the support from Governor Jared Polis to implement the solution this year. The Democratic Party has prioritized getting more electric cars and more fuel-efficient cars on the road. This requires a new source of funding for the road, given that it undermines Gax tax revenue.

His administration’s 10-year strategic transportation plan lists projects that cost about $ 3.5 billion. So far, nearly the first nearly $ 2 billion has been covered after lawmakers have made more money available in recent years and approved $ 500 million in bonds to generate new dollars.

A police spokesman did not answer the question as to whether he would support the proposal, but the governor said he would like to pay a lump sum for the transportation project.

The legislative supporters behind the proposal held more than 30 private meetings with businesses and interest groups to find common ground.

The main goal is the gasoline tax, which is a politically problematic issue.

In 2020, transport negotiations did not progress after the pandemic. But the political pressure was significant. The conservative, politically non-profit Americans for Prosperity launched an advocacy campaign against the gasoline tax hike at the beginning of the session.

Gasoline taxes have been flat since 1992, and improved vehicle fuel economy has led to static revenues for road construction and maintenance. However, in recent years, interest in asking tax increase questions in voting has remained low, as other efforts to increase tax revenues have failed to boost transportation and education.

Proposals to implement fees will allow legislators to circumvent the voter approval requirements under the taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, as it does not count as a tax increase, supporters said. It was.

Road charges apply only to certain companies that are currently tracking driving patterns, such as ride-sharing services and food and parcel delivery companies. A 2016 study of pilot programs in Colorado found that other drivers were deeply concerned about personal privacy for a wider implementation.

Montrose Republican Mark Catlin, a member of the House Transport Committee, said he wants to prioritize transport this year, even if he doesn’t know how to find more money. He said that just because a pandemic is reducing traffic congestion doesn’t mean the problem has disappeared.

“In this era, we’re all beating cars in these potholes and lining up, so that might be one of the things we can agree on,” he said in a recent interview while driving. .. “I don’t know how to hit the drums hard. That’s one of my problems …. We all say that transportation needs to be repaired, but somewhere we lose focus I am. “

Mike Copp, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Concern, an influential organization of business leaders, said negotiations are ripe for a bipartisan agreement this year.

“I think the legislature definitely feels the heat from their members,” he said. “They correctly read that their members want a solution to this.”

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