Colorado Democrats ditch past bipartisan transportation deals in new bill

·2 min read

Inside Colorado's new 197-page transportation bill, state Democratic lawmakers are replacing bipartisan ideas with their own agenda.

Why it matters: The lesser-noticed provisions of Senate Bill 260 — which won approval in its first committee Monday — void major elements of current law that drew broad support from Republicans.

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  • The legislation allows an additional $225 million in annual spending, which reverses a 2017 bipartisan deal in Senate Bill 267 to lower the spending caps under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

  • It also cancels a 2021 ballot measure to seek approval for $1.3 billion in bonds for road construction, as approved in 2018 under Senate Bill 1.

Context: In 2017 and 2018, the General Assembly featured split partisan control that forced lawmakers to compromise on the two landmark road-funding bills.

  • Now, Democrats control both chambers, so the new legislation to raise $3.8 billion in fees and spending on clean energy technology doesn't need broad GOP support.

What they're saying: Democrats "campaigned on Senate Bill 1 — it was the end-all-be-all. And what happened? They came back and said, 'No, forget about that. We're going to do this other monster,'" said Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction).

The other side: Democratic bill sponsors said those deals were made for political expediency — and now they want to go in a different direction for a more permanent fix.

  • In an interview, Rep. Matt Gray, a Broomfield Democrat and bill sponsor, acknowledged the lack of more Republican support. "The politics inside this building can be hard admittedly," he told Axios.

The bottom line: The latest transportation legislation is supported by just one Republican lawmaker and a few other GOP leaders outside the building.

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