Colorado House tentatively OKs plan to raise car fees
DENVER, Colorado ” The Colorado House tentatively approved a key economic stimulus bill Tuesday that would raise car registration fees to pay for road and bridge repairs.
The bill’s sponsor, Littleton Democratic Rep. Joe Rice, said the bill will protect 5,000 to 8,000 jobs over the next year and create tens of thousands of new jobs.
Rice said the bill would also enable the state to repair and rebuild 126 dangerous bridges and rutted roads.
Under the plan (Senate Bill 108), the owners of cars and SUVs would pay an extra $32 this year and $41 next year.
“I think the cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of this bill,” Rice told his colleagues.
The bill won tentative approval and faces a third reading in the House before going back to the Senate for consideration of amendments.
Rep. Edward Casso, D-Thornton, tried unsuccessfully to remove a tolling authority provision in the bill, saying the state should not make taxpayers pay for roads that they already paid off.
“It’s double taxation,” he told fellow Democrats who sponsored the bill.
Rice said local governments already have the authority to impose tolls on local roads and the bill would actually give them greater veto power if the state tries to impose toll roads without their consent.
Rice said roads are crumbling because they aren’t being kept up and the state cannot afford to count on any federal stimulus funds, derisively called “Obamabucks” by Republicans, because they are one-time funds and the state will still have to find ways to pay for transportation long after that money is gone.
Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, said the plan by Gov. Bill Ritter and fellow Democrats imposes too great a burden on lower-income people to pay for expenses the state should already be covering.