Colorado bill would once again delay transportation bond vote
May 29, 2020
One Colorado House bill is moving forward at the statehouse to again delay a public vote on whether to tap $1.8 billion in bonds to pay for transportation work.
Approved during the 2018 regular session, the ballot question calls for asking voters whether the state should borrow $1.4 billion for infrastructure work. Combined with other investments, the bonds would fund nearly $3 billion in infrastructure improvements over two decades.
Most of the bond money – 85% – would be allotted for state highway projects. Transit would claim 15 percent.
As specified in the 2018 law, the issue was set to be included on the state’s 2019 fall ballot.
Concerns about a growing list of state spending questions on last year’s bond vote spurred legislators to act to approve a one-year delay until November 2020.
In the meantime, $500 million in transportation work was earmarked for funding via previously approved borrowing.
Supporters concern about passage in November 2019 was validated when voters defeated two transportation funding questions.
Another delay underway
A second postponement to the road bond vote could soon be approved by state lawmakers.
The House Transportation and Motor Vehicles and the Finance committees each acted this week to advance a bill to wait until 2021 before voters can decide on the question.
Advocates say it is unlikely voters would get behind the bond vote ballot measure because of the political and economic problems resulting from COVID-19.
HB1376 would authorize the state to borrow $1.8 billion in bonds.
Additionally, the bill calls for delaying for two years a $50 million general fund transfer to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The transfer would be used to make payments on bonds.
If voters approve the bond question, annual transfers from the general fund to the highway fund would increase by $29.5 million to $79.5 million.
The bill awaits consideration in the House Appropriations Committee.