Colorado Senate Republicans’ big transportation bill gets first committee hearing

By Marc Stewart

DENVER 7

After last year’s failure by the General Assembly to fund a clean tax hike for Colorado roads and travel infrastructure, state lawmakers are considering a new proposal this session to help finance much-needed transportation projects.

The Senate Transportation Committee held the first committee hearing on Senate Bill 1 Monday, the Republican measure that looks to use part of the state’s general fund by diverting about 10 percent of state sales and use taxes for transportation projects. The extra funds would come from a state surplus that both parties have argued should be used for different things.

Under the Senate proposal, voters will have to decide if billions in money should be used to purchase bonds to pay for big-ticket projects, many along I-25 and I-70.

“If we can put that $3.5 billion towards tier-one projects throughout the state, that’s a great start,” said state Sen. John Cooke, a Weld County Republican.

The Republican-sponsored bill is prompting questions from Democrats, who wonder if rerouting more money for transportation won’t hurt other priorities for the state.

“That’s a pretty big commitment — money that’s already going to pay for things like education, health care, higher education,” said state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, a Democrat from Arvada.

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