Colorado Floats Sales Tax for Transportation

A transportation study group is rolling out a proposal to place a .7%, 10-year general sales tax on the 2014 ballot with two-thirds of the revenue going for roads and one-third for transit. The state's 22-cent gas tax hasn't been raised since 1991.
September 11, 2013, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Monte Whaley writes that the sales tax measure that would raise $600 million a year for transportation projects is still in the planning phase, and that the reception to the measure "has been mixed".

According to the Metro Mayors Caucus, MPACT64, the transportation study group, "is a collaboration among four regional organizations covering all 64 counties in Colorado. The Metro Mayors Caucus, Progressive 15, Action 22, and Club 20 began working together on transportation issues in 2005 with the development and adoption of the Colorado Transportation Principles (PDF)."

The road revenue would go to the state's Highway Users Tax Fund (PDF), a trust fund that has dedicated funding from the state's motor fuel excise tax (PDF), unchanged since 1991 at 22-cents per gallon [ranks #34 (PDF) in the nation, meaning only 15 states have lower gas taxes] as well as lesser amounts from the "annual vehicle license and registration fees and passenger-mile taxes on (commercial) vehicles (PDF)". 

The Colorado Department of Transportation is "short about $800 million to pay for maintenance, rural road safety and congestion relief", according to CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford. Their share of the Highway User Tax Fund revenue from the proposed sales tax would be $243 million.

MPACT64 may not have read the Post's January editorial that advised that increasing the state gas tax be explored, pointing to a September, 2011 publication by the Independence Institute on potential state gas tax increases by CDOT. The paper also advised that an "electric vehicle tax" be considered that "would likely lean heavily on similar proposed legislation from Oregon in 2011 that essentially uses odometer metering to assess the vehicle use tax." [See "Nation's First VMT Fee Bill Passed By Oregon Legislature"].

The editorial also suggested emulating Colorado's neighbor, Wyoming, "where state lawmakers are contemplating a 10-cent-per-gallon increase in state gas taxes to make the transportation infrastructure improvements necessary to keep the Cowboy state in business." [See "Will Other States Follow Wyoming's Lead In Raising Gas Tax?"].

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Published on Sunday, September 8, 2013 in The Denver Post
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