The highly-anticipated bill to fund much-needed transportation improvements in Colorado was introduced by the House on February 9th. If approved by the General Assembly, HB 17-1242 will ask voters this November to increase sales taxes by .62% for 20 years, moving the state sales tax from 2.9% to just over 3.5%, and generating an estimated $702 million annually. This increase would be offset by the elimination of the state share of the Road Safety Surcharge within FASTER, which would save consumers roughly $75 million annually. The bill would result in a net increase of $677 million per year of revenue available for state and local multi-modal transportation needs.
The funding would be allocated as follows:
- CDOT would receive $300 million per year to be spent on statewide strategic projects, including multi-modal capital projects. This would be a fixed amount that is approximately 45% of first-year net revenue increase. CDOT can direct up to $50 million per year toward a $3.5 billion bonding package, with a maximum repayment of $5 billion over 20 years, to address the state’s Tier 1 identified needs. Unexpended and unencumbered dollars can be put toward maintenance and agency priorities.
The remaining new revenue would be divided:
- 70% to city and county governments to be disbursed pursuant to the existing Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF) distribution formula. This would be a variable amount subject to increase but expected to amount to $228.9 million in 2018 or 40% of the first year’s new revenue. City and county governments would be provided maximum flexibility to spend their resources on local priorities (i.e., multimodal capital or operational expenses) and could also use dollars as matching dollars to unlock funding from the multi-modal transportation options fund.
- 30% to a new multi-modal transportation options fund. This, too, would be a variable amount subject to increase but expected to amount to $98.1 million in 2018 which is approximately 15% of first-year new revenue. Of this, $74 million would be available for transit and $24.5 million for non-motorized use including paths, bike/pedestrian facilities, sidewalks, and roadways for non-motorized vehicles. The fund would be directed by a new politically appointed commission that would be housed in CDOT and made up of local government officials, transit experts, metro planning organizations, and advocates.
Commuting Solutions has taken a position of support for the bill and will actively engage as it proceeds through the legislature.