Driving in Colorado isn’t easy and it’s getting harder every day — from potholes to all the time wasted sitting in traffic. But the fix to these problems requires politicians to make the same kind of tough decisions that small businesses and families make every day.
The Colorado Department of Transportation says it needs $900 million per year over the next 10 years for new transportation projects alone. The department currently budgets only $80 million a year for these projects. At this rate, it will take nearly 31 years just to complete everything on the department’s high priority list.
Lawmakers across the political spectrum acknowledge the need to address this shortfall, yet too often they present voters with false choices in their attempts to secure more funding. Rather than prioritizing transportation, lawmakers fund their own priorities and then hold transportation hostage, demanding an increase in taxes to fund it.
Not surprisingly, polls have found Coloradans oppose schemes to raise taxes for transportation. During the 2017 legislative session, 57 percent of Coloradans opposed a transportation tax hike proposal before opponents even began campaigning against it, an indication that no amount of money spent in support of the measure would have convinced voters to pass it.
We didn’t get in this transportation mess overnight and we won’t get out of it in one legislative session. But lawmakers can start by reallocating funds, eliminating waste and ending cronyism in the state budget.
For one thing, they need to analyze where our user fees for highways are being spent. How much is frittered away on non-highway spending, like transit projects and decorative landscaping in medians?
They should tackle the cronyism in the state tax code that benefits special interests while shortchanging taxpayers. That includes…