Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), along with state Reps. Yuelin Willett (R-Grand Junction) and J. Paul Brown (R-Ignacio), on Aug. 20 expressed support for an increase in the state gas tax, according to the Colorado Statesman.
During a roundtable meeting at the Western Slope region of Colorado, Gov. Hickenlooper observed that the state gas tax has not been increased since 1992.
Rep. Brown stated, “Do you know what kind of shape our roads are in? There’s no way to keep with inflation.”
This past spring, the Colorado legislature rejected a $3.5 billion transportation bonding proposal. At the time of introduction, Gov. Hickenlooper’s office stated, “…we don’t believe more debt is the answer, and are concerned with sacrificing maintenance in favor of new construction when Colorado needs both.”
According to a 2015 report by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the state is facing a 10-year deficit of $450 million just to meet the department’s goals (80 percent of pavement ranked ‘High/Moderate Drivability Life’ on state roads, 90 percent of bridges rated ‘Not Structurally Deficient’, and sustaining a B- grade for Maintenance Levels of Service by 2025). To go beyond CDOT’s goals and accomplish their ‘vision’ (90 percent of pavement ranked ‘High/Moderate Drivability Life’ on state roads, 90 percent of bridges rated ‘Not Structurally Deficient’, and a B grade for Maintenance Levels of Service by 2025), the department would need $2.918 billion in new revenue. The report notes that costs to reach CDOT’s goals have risen from previous years’ reports due to several factors, including inflation.
Update 8/24/2015: Story updated to remove statements from the Aug. 20th Colorado Statesman that Gov. Hickenlooper requested a state gas tax increase.
Gov. Hickenlooper denied reports that he requested a 10- to 12 cents-per-gallon gas tax increase, instead emphasizing his preference to reclassify hospital fees in order to exempt those funds from impacting the state’s tax revenue cap. By doing so, Colorado could eliminate tax refunds the state is required to give taxpayers when the tax revenue cap is reached. Funds currently used for refunds could then be directed to state agencies, with reportedly more than $200 million available for state transportation funding.
According to the Denver Post, two attendees of the Aug. 20th meeting— including State Rep. Brown— report Gov. Hickenlooper did say he would support a plan to increase the state gas tax if the legislation received unified, bipartisan support from lawmakers.