In this Capitol Report:
Views of Gubernatorial Candidates Cover the Waterfront on Transportation Funding Woes
By next Wednesday, there will be two major-party gubernatorial candidates left standing: one Democrat and one Republican.
Tuesday’s primary elections will send six of the eight Democrat and Republican candidates to the sidelines.
An important element of the general election campaign to determine who will be Colorado’s next governor will be transportation funding. Voters, meanwhile, may also face two competing ballot measures to fund transportation (see below).
Colorado Politics recently ran articles by seven of the eight candidates that detailed their positions on transportation funding. Here are brief excerpts of their articles.
“As governor, I have a plan to support our infrastructure so that getting around Colorado is easy, affordable and safe. This is why I think we will have to go to the ballot and ask the voters to approve a long-term stable funding source for infrastructure.”
“While some highway improvements are needed, especially in rural areas, in the long term we can’t widen our way out of traffic. Instead, let’s build a coordinated system of transportation options, from rail to buses to bikes, that will allow us to reduce congestion, improve health, and protect Colorado’s environment and air quality. We can secure a future in Colorado where most trips aren’t powered by fossil fuels.”
“First, we have to focus on supporting sustainable, responsible transportation funding. We can’t fix this problem within our existing state budget. And we can’t bond our way out of it either. We need new, dedicated funding for transportation. I support the plan to couple a 20-year statewide sales tax increase with limited bonding authority to make a meaningful impact in meeting state and local infrastructure needs.”
“To address our nearly $9 billion shortfall in unmet road repairs, we should consider a combination of new revenue sources and the common sense use of existing funds.”
Lopez did not respond to the request of Colorado Politics for an article about his views on addressing transportation. Here’s what his Web site has on the issue:
“I pledge to never play politics with transportation. Instead, my commitment is to implementing long-lasting solutions by “thinking outside the dome” and beginning real conversations about new transportation corridors – not simply “political conversations” that lead nowhere.”
“I oppose both initiatives. My opponents embrace one or the other. We can and must address our road and bridge challenges without new taxes or debt. First and foremost, there is an urgent need to reform CDOT. It has become an agency with bloated overhead, hyper-political administrators and an organization without a bold vision.”
“I support asking the voters to bond $3.5 billion to be used to fix and improve our highways. This would be paid back by allocating the monies which were being spent annually on the Owens TRANS bonds and prioritizing approximately another $125 million from the budget.”
“Colorado already has the revenues available to address our transportation issues, but it will require the political will of the next governor to make it a reality. Without raising taxes, we can solve our transportation problems by demanding more efficiency and fiscal responsibility from our state government.”
Possible November Ballot Measures
As mentioned above, Colorado voters this November may face two transportation-funding ballot proposals that offer starkly different strategies for addressing the state’s $9 billion shortfall for paying for roads and bridges over the next decade.
Increase the Sales Tax to Pay for Roads
Led by the Colorado Contractors Association and the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, the coalition is advocating a ballot proposal, Initiative 153, that would increase for two decades the state sales-and-use tax by 0.62 percent, which would bring the tax to 3.52 percent beginning January 1, 2019.
The proposal also authorizes CDOT to issue up to $6 billion in bonds to be spent on state transportation projects.
The new sales tax revenue would be earmarked according to the following formula:
- 45 percent for state transportation funding and debt service (principal plus interest) on the bond repayment;
- 40 percent for local governments; and
- 15 percent for multimodal transportation.
Force the Legislature to Pay for Roads from Current Revenue
Jon Caldara, head of the conservative think tank, The Independence Institute, is advocating Initiative 167, a measure that would force the legislature to pay the debt service on $3.5 billion in transportation bond sales.
Called “Fix Our Damn Roads,” Initiative 167 would require the legislature to first make debt-service payments before allocating General Fund revenue to other programs
Bond repayment is capped at $5.2 billion over the two decades. The average annual repayment would be a projected $260 million. In other words, over twenty years State spending on other governmental services would be reduced by $5.2 billion through fiscal year 2038-2039.
Under Initiative 167, no money would go to local governments or for multi-modal purposes. No money would be spent on mass transit.
The proceeds from the sale of the bonds would be spent only on road-and-bridge expansion, maintenance, construction and repair for 66 specific projects–called Tier 1–located in each of the state’s 15 transportation planning regions.
For information on transportation funding and the two ballot measures, contact Loren Furman, Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.
For more information about the gubernatorial candidates’ positions on transportation funding, read:
“PRIMARY PREVIEW: How would candidates for governor steer transportation?” by Dan Njegomir, Colorado Politics, June 7th.
“Ballot Wars: Competing Transportation Funding Measures May Be on November Ballot,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, June 1st.
A Tour that “Smoked” Preconceived Notions
For its May program, the Colorado Chamber of Commerce’s EXECs Advocacy Program class ventured into the world of Colorado’s cannabis industry for an exclusive tour of Native Roots’ cultivation and production facility, which changed members’ perspectives about the controversial industry, its evolution and the state of manufacturing sophistication.
Native Roots’ secure building, located in the manufacturing district northeast of the juncture of I-70 and I-25, houses the full process to produce cannabis products, including flower, concentrates, topicals and edibles that are then delivered throughout its network of 20 retail outlets across the state.
EXECs class members were able to tour the facility with company leaders and ask questions at every stage.
We saw one of several growing bays where plants move from cuttings to full maturation under highly controlled agricultural conditions utilizing some of the best science in the industry with sophisticated air and lighting systems as well as water and nutrient management
The plants gain their state-mandated radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for tracking at the eight-inch tall stage, and those codes follow the plant materials throughout the process all the way to the end user as well as waste management
All protocols for safety, pest management and compliance with State rules and regulations were very impressive along with the sheer size and effectiveness of the operation and the complexity of the manufacturing process that has developed in only a few short years since legalization.
Following the grow, the EXECs class members viewed the post-harvest process that utilizes both machine technology and workers to turn the long-stemmed plant into buds and trim in different categories based on size.
The product at this stage is either packaged for delivery as flower or sent on to the company’s Marijuana Infused Product (MIP) facility. At the MIP, workers extract the oils from plant materials to create many of the other cannabis products that have expanded the industry such as concentrates, lotions and edibles. This area of the building utilizes the height of technological advancements to ensure efficiencies in manufacturing protocols in line with those leading in other industries.
As the first cannabis program for an EXECs class, the members were highly impressed with the facility, protocols, safety, processes and strict adherence to compliance.
For information about the EXECs Advocacy Program, contact Lalitha Christian, Colorado Chamber Manager, Membership Programs and Communications, at 303.866.9635.