Colorado Democrats ditch past bipartisan transportation deals in new bill
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.
- 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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