DENVER -- The centerpiece of a bipartisan push to put a road and transportation fix on the ballot next fall gained major momentum at the Colorado Statehouse today, winning Transportation Committee support after being amended in ways that could give the measure more traction in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Senate Bill-1242, which Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City) has from the beginning called a “work in progress,” was amended in a number of ways aimed at strengthening and improving the bill. Major modifications include:
- A reduction in the proposed sales tax increase from .62 to .50
- A major long-term commitment of general fund support for future bond payments, totaling $100 million per year;
- Nixing of a proposed multi-model commission stakeholders called unnecessary or redundant, and
- Reforms to state contracting practices that greatly improve transparency and open-up the bidding process to more competition
More changes could be made before the process run its course, but Grantham said he was generally pleased with where things were heading.
“Today’s amendments accomplished a number of things we were looking for, including lessening any new burden on Colorado taxpayers and committing more of existing tax dollars to transportation, for the funding of high priority projects, moving forward,” said Grantham. “And changes we’re making to state road contracting practices will help make every dollar go further through more transparency and greater competition.”
One key “yes” vote, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulpher Springs), praised Grantham for having the courage to lead on a politically contentious issue. “As we’ve heard today, HB-1242 is not the perfect piece of legislation, but an evolving piece of legislation that we’ll continue to improve on a bipartisan basis,” said Baumgardner. “That said, as someone who has been working on this issue for a very long time, I can say that this proposal, despite its imperfections, is the best path we’ve seen to get us down the road.”
Grantham said voters would ultimately have to decide if lawmakers hit the mark with SB-1242. “What’s great about Colorado is that voters, not legislators, will have the final say, yes or no, and I’m okay with them telling us yes or no once we put the best bipartisan solution we could on the table,” said Grantham. “There are parts of this bill that are difficult for all of us, and for both parties, which kind of makes me feel like we’re hitting it in the middle on this.”
SB-1242 next moves to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.