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IMG_SB21-260 Bill signing

Transportation is a Fundamental Issue for MMC

TABOR, which passed by a margin of 111,402 votes in 1992, mandates that voters approve any statewide tax increase. Since 1992, Colorado has grown from just over 3 million residents to more than 5.6 million and over that same 27 year time period, voters have not approved a single statewide tax increase to support transportation. Because our state and federal gas taxes are not indexed to inflation, a dollar today purchases just 40% as much as it did in 1991.  While much attention is focused on Colorado's Department of Transportation funding shortfalls — the challenge is not CDOT’s alone. More than 75% of the paved miles in Colorado are maintained by cities and counties. Every trip begins on a local road, street or sidewalk and local governments also face tremendous unfunded mobility and maintenance needs. 

With greater than 53% of the state's population living within the metro Denver area, an integrated multi-modal mobility system is essential to  the economic health and quality of life in both the Denver metro area and the state. A fully integrated system provides mobility choices by tying together rail, bus transit, local roads, state highways, bike lanes, sidewalks and mobility solutions like those emerging from the sharing economy. Build-out of this network in the Denver region is a critical component of Metro Vision, the Denver region's long-range growth and development plan.

Significant and sustainable sources of new revenues are required to address the state and local multi-modal needs of current and future generations of Coloradans. Given the critical importance of mobility to economic and environmental sustainability, the Caucus has convened dialogues and supported many initiatives on transportation and mobility since 1993. Support has been provided for multiple rail lines, the $1.67B TREX Project, the 2004 ballot proposal to fund RTD's FasTracks plan, the $200M per year, fee based 2009 legislative financing package known as FASTER,  legislative attempts to identify sustainable sources of new funding and, most recently,  the 2018 statewide sales tax increase in  Proposition 110 also known as "Let's Go, Colorado" which would have generated $767M for transportation in its first year. 

With failure of Proposition 110's  .62% statewide sales tax increase and the concurrent failure of the fiscally irresponsible Proposition 109 debt proposal, the Caucus encouraged Governor Polis and the legislature to reevaluate all options to fund both state and local mobility needs. In 2021, working with the legislative leadership and Governor Polis, the Caucus strove to find a compromise that would fund both the state and localities needs and balancing maintenance needs of the vast rural network with the intense mobility and congestion relief needs of our dense urbanized areas where more than 83% of Coloradans live and travel daily.

This compromise was struck in Senate Bill 21-260 (see above photo from signing ceremony). SB21-260 commits General Fund dollars, new user fees, and federal stimulus to fund congestion relief, maintenance, EV infrastructure, and mobility needs on state highways and local roads. While the proposed $4.2B investment will address just a portion of Colorado's unmet state and local need, SB21-260 will still provide an unprecedented level of investment in Colorado’s transportation network from a sustainable source of funds. This bill marked an incredibly important step in addressing the diverse transportation and mobility needs statewide that was embraced by mayors from across the political spectrum. 

With nearly $950M for local jurisdictions, $461M for multi-modal and $233M non-attainment, SB21-260 will benefit local mobility needs and air quality mitigation efforts. Robust funding for electrification will position Colorado at the forefront of the market transition to electric vehicles and accelerate Ozone attainment. Finally, by empowering transportation planning organizations to identify projects and seek voter approval for funding, the state and our Denver region gained a critical tool to further close the gap on mobility investment. This effort to empower our region to better serve its citizens, without creating new, expensive and duplicative governmental organizations, is the culmination of nearly a decade of work and discussions by leadership and staff of the Metro Mayors Caucus.