Vote ‘no’ on Prop. 109 and ‘yes’ on Prop. 110 to fund transportation in Colorado (letter)

As every long-term resident knows, Colorado’s transportation needs have gone unmet for decades. In every corner of our state, we lack the resources to maintain our roads, highways and local bus routes — especially in our local communities.

A quick primer: The Colorado Department of Transportation is mostly funded through a gas tax of 22 cents per gallon, an amount set nearly 30 years ago. Not surprisingly, the gas tax becomes less useful as fuel efficiency increases and hybrid/electric vehicles become more prevalent. And population increases just compound the problem. Today, Colorado spends just $69 per driver on transportation infrastructure compared to 25 years ago when we spent $125 per driver!

Basically, our way of funding our transportation infrastructure is outdated and broken. In response, Proposition 110 (“Let’s Go Colorado”) proposes raising new revenue dedicated to transportation and mass transit via a 0.62 percent increase in the state’s sales tax — a little more than a half a cent on a dollar purchase.

Why a sales tax? First, it provides an immediate revenue source so long-overdue projects can begin quickly. Second, it ensures everyone pays their fair share, including the 80 million tourists who visit Colorado annually.

And a sales tax is less regressive than one might assume, as groceries, prescriptions and utilities are excluded from state sales taxes.

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Contrast this with Proposition 109, which mandates increased spending on transportation in the form of bonds, which increase our debt obligations but provide no new funding to pay them. Over time, this measure will lead to mandatory cuts in other items in the state budget to pay back our debt (e.g. higher education, kindergarten through 12th grade education, natural resources, health care, etc.).

That’s why the Colorado Sierra Club respectfully urges you to vote “no” on Proposition 109 and “yes” on Proposition 110.

Brian Duchinsky

Colorado Sierra Club conservation chair, Headwaters Group, Eagle, Summit and Grand counties

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