The Republican Party is partially at fault for legislative failure to approve proposals to repair Colorado roads and bridges, Gov. Bill Ritter said at a May 7 news conference.
Ritter said that concern over Democratic lawmakers’ re-election chances played a factor in the lack of any action on transportation, even though Democrats hold a 40-15 majority in the House and a 20-15 majority in the Senate.
"There are a lot of Democrats, and they have every right to feel and think this way, who know that they're freshmen, they're incumbents, they're in districts that for a long time have been Republican districts," Ritter said. "And then they have to go and get beat over the head by a Republican opponent saying that they unilaterally increased fees for transportation funding without us having conducted the necessary education campaign."
Early in the session, Ritter proposed increasing vehicle registration fees by an average of $100 a car, a plan that would have raised about $500 million for road and bridge needs. A few weeks before the session ended, a group of almost all Democratic lawmakers offered a $300 million plan for roads and bridges that would have raised registration fees by as much as $97 a vehicle and increased fees on rental cars. Discussions on both plans were dropped.
"I feel like this conversation broke down around politics, that we tried to get the Republicans interested in looking at how we would put together different pots of money," Ritter said. "We began our conversation very early in the session and could not get the Republican leadership to act on it at all."
"We are now just crossing our fingers and hoping a bridge doesn't fall down between now" and January, when lawmakers can try again, said Senate President Peter Groff, D-Denver.
Democrats “outnumber us by 15 people in the House," said Rep. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican. "They have nearly enough to pass a constitutional amendment in their own caucus, and to try to say they can't pass their agenda because they lack Republican votes?
"That shows a complete lack of leadership and a vacuum within their own party."