Colorado legislators delay transportation bond vote

May 7, 2019

Keith Goble


Colorado state lawmakers have approved legislation to delay a public vote on whether to tap $2.3 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 $2.3 billion for infrastructure work. Combined with other investments, the bonds would fund nearly $3.5 billion in infrastructure improvements over two decades.

Most of the bond money – 85% – would be allotted for state highway projects. Transit would claim 15%.

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 the upcoming fall ballot spurred legislators to act to approve delay. The passage of SB263 delays the transportation question from appearing on the ballot for one year.

Voters defeated two transportation funding questions this past November.

In the meantime, $500 million in transportation work will be funded via previously approved borrowing.

Transportation budget

The topic of transportation funding in Colorado is receiving a lot of attention at the statehouse.

House and Senate lawmakers recently reached agreement on a $30.5 billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The transportation sector is in line to receive among the biggest slices of the budget pie. The roads department will receive $300 million for the 2019-20 fiscal year that begins July 1.

The amount is a drop in the bucket compared to total needs identified by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The agency has said the state needs about $9 billion over the next decade.

The money will be split between the state DOT and local governments. Specifically, the earmarks will be used for road work and maintenance, and mass transit.

More ballot questions

Measures approved by the General Assembly greenlight two transportation-related tax questions to be included on this fall’s ballot.

HB1257 authorizes inclusion of a question asking voters whether to permit excess revenues that now are refunded to taxpayers to instead be kept by the state.

HB1258 states that upon voter approval the excess revenue would be applied for education and transportation. Public education and higher education would receive two-thirds of the revenue and transportation would receive the rest.