ARCHIVED  September 1, 1997

Road improvements are great, but not at this high price

Many reasons exist to support the Colorado Transportation Network’s gas-tax initiative, which will face voters on the November ballot. The prospect of billions of dollars spent on the state’s roads appeals to residents and businesses alike. But we must say “no.”We agree that more money must be spent on roads, that spending in recent years has been grossly inadequate, even that the state’s current condition of budget surpluses won’t last forever. But none of those conditions justify the power and extreme level of taxation contemplated in the Colorado Transportation Network initiative. The initiative would increase the state’s gasoline tax by 5 cents per gallon to 27 cents, impose a $100 fee on new vehicles and would increase the vehicle-registration fee by $10. It also would allow the Colorado Department of Transportation to impose tolls on any highway, with the proceeds to be used whereever CDOT determined was necessary. You read that correctly: Tolls could be imposed on any highway, to fund any transportation project. The initiative would raise an estimated $2.41 billion over the next 13 years. While such in increase in spending on roads sounds good, it masks several facts, including that the tax hike would give Colorado the third-highest gas tax in the nation, according to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo. Business, large and small, would bear a heavy share of the tax and fee hikes. One more point: The state Legislature has already boosted transportation funding by 44 percent, awarding $855 million to transportation programs last year. It seems prudent to ensure that that huge sum, and future appropriations, are spent wisely, rather than pumping billions into the system now. Let’s wait for a transportation-funding measure that makes sense. Vote “no” on the Colorado Transportation Network initiative.

Many reasons exist to support the Colorado Transportation Network’s gas-tax initiative, which will face voters on the November ballot. The prospect of billions of dollars spent on the state’s roads appeals to residents and businesses alike. But we must say “no.”We agree that more money must be spent on roads, that spending in recent years has been grossly inadequate, even that the state’s current condition of budget surpluses won’t last forever. But none of those conditions justify the power and extreme level of taxation contemplated in the Colorado Transportation Network initiative. The initiative would increase the state’s gasoline tax by…

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