Raising sales tax not a popular option for transportation funding problem

    The Colorado General Assembly is halfway through its 120-day session that ends May 11. The biggest news out of the state Capitol at midpoint is the introduction of a long-awaited solution to the state’s transportation funding problems.
    House Bill 17-1242 would ask voters this November to approve an increase in the state’s sales tax, from its current 2.9 percent (29 cents on a $10 purchase) to 3.52 percent (about 35 cents on a $10 purchase).
    The measure, if adopted by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, would raise $3.5 billion to pay for transportation projects around the state. The increase in sales tax would be expected to raise about $677 million per year.
    Colorado Department of Transportation would get the first $300 million of that to pay for $3.5 billion in bonds over a 20-year period. CDOT says it has a $9 billion backlog of transportation projects statewide.
    The bill’s smaller request reflects a belief among lawmakers as well as Hickenlooper that voters may OK a $3.5 billion request but not a $9 billion one.

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