Editor’s Note: Denver7 360 stories explore multiple sides of the topics that matter most to Coloradans, bringing in different perspectives so you can make up your own mind about the issues. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at 360@TheDenverChannel.com. See more 360 stories here.
DENVER — With more drivers using Colorado roads, there’s not only more traffic, but more wear and tear on the infrastructure. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has identified $9 billion in needs from repair and replacement to improvements to help alleviate congestion.
“Without funding, these can’t get fixed,” said CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew.
For decades, the gas tax has served as the state’s main source of funding for transportation projects. Each time a driver fills up their gas tank, 18 cents go to the federal government and another 22 cents go to the state.
However, the state gas tax hasn’t been raised in nearly three decades.
So, is it time to raise the gas tax or are there other ideas to raise money for Colorado roads? Denver7 went 360 to hear multiple perspectives on the issue of transportation funding.
DENVER–Governor Polis and the majority Democrats have an ambitious agenda this legislative session. Question is, how will they pay for it all? With the failure of Proposition CC in November, those who were hanging their hats on voters giving up future tax refunds, allowing the state to keep and spend overcollected tax revenue, will need to find new pots of money. Indeed, not only did Coloradans vote to keep the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) revenue limit in place, that limit has been hit and the state income tax rate is actually ratcheting down for the year.
Republican strategist Roger Hudson and Democrat strategist Miller Hudson recently sat down with Complete Colorado editor-in-Chief Mike Krause on the public affairs TV show Devil’s Advocate (airs Friday nights at 8:30 on Colorado Public Television, channel 12) to talk about where Democrats might turn to bring in new revenues. Both agree that one option is more more fee-funded government-run enterprises, which operate outside the TABOR budget cap. Check out the video below to find out more.
Now that Proposition CC has gone down in flames, what will progressives do next to sabotage TABOR?
Aren’t you sick and tired on politicians trying to weasel their way out of, or ignoring, TABOR?
We need to do something about it, right?
Well then, why not you?
Yes, you read that right.
Why not? It’s a great time to get involved.
If not you, then who?
We could use your help, talents, and skills defending the gold standard, Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).
We’re looking forward to having you help Colorado.
It’s easy to join.
See below on how you can make a difference.
July 26, 2019 By Michael Fields
As our state’s roads continue to get worse and worse, Coloradans are wondering when the legislature is finally going to make them a priority.
Earlier this month, a portion of U.S. Highway 36 collapsed, briefly shutting down the main connection between Boulder and Denver. The road was built only a couple of years ago through a public-private partnership – and the estimated cost to fix it is $20 million.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has direct oversight over these road projects, and the legislature has direct oversight over CDOT.
So, it’s worthwhile to look both at CDOT’s performance, and how much focus (or lack of focus) the legislature has been putting on fixing our roads.
A newly released state performance audit looked at CDOT from 2016-17 – and the findings are quite alarming. CDOT spent 37% – $582.7 million – more than its approved budget for 2016-17. In the real world, most of us would get fired from our jobs if we overspent our budgets by 37%.
But that wasn’t CDOT’s only problem. The agency did not properly track how $1.3 billion was spent. While not finding any blatant fraud, the audit did say there was “suspicious patterns and anomalies.”
This was happening around the same time that CDOT decided to build new offices for itself, costing taxpayers $150 million. With tone-deaf decisions like these, it’s no wonder why taxpayers continually shoot down statewide tax increases.
Coloradans are inching closer to their first TABOR tax refunds in years, according to updated state revenue forecasts released Wednesday.
In fact, state collections have been so strong that taxpayers are likely to get both a sales tax refund and a state income tax cut, according to Kate Watkins, the chief economist for Colorado’s Legislative Council.
She and her team estimate TABOR will drop the state’s income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.5 percent for both 2019 and 2020. For someone who makes $50,000 a year that’s a savings of $65. The sales tax refund amount is based on a complicated formula, but it ranged from $13 to $41 when the state last gave them out, in 2015.
May 6, 2019 By Joshua Sharf
Look at the list of organizations supporting House Bill 19-1257, the bill to ask Colorado voters to permanently repeal Colorado’s Taxpayer ‘s Bill of Rights (TABOR) spending limits. No fewer than 60 groups hired lobbyists to push for the measure, which will appear on November’s state-wide ballot.
Everyone is represented – governments, non-profits, business groups, unions, school districts, government employees.
Everyone is represented.
Well, everyone except the taxpayer.
Which is why we need a constitutional amendment protecting the taxpayer in the first place.
While TABOR has a number of provisions designed to limit government, there are three main ones. The first requires a citizen vote on all general tax increases – income tax, payroll tax, sales & property tax, etc. Fees directly related to delivering a specific government service are exempt. So-called enterprises, which do not receive general tax revenue, are also allowed to raise their fees and charges without a vote, and what’s more, their revenue doesn’t count towards the overall cap the way than regular fees do. Continue reading