Transit projects in Colorado will now be able to dip into the $250 million pot accrued from state gas taxes and license plate fees, thanks to a law signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in late April. Debate continues among state lawmakers, however, over both the diversion of money meant for road and bridge projects and the constitutionality of the provision.
To date, the money in the Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF) has only been available for road and bridge construction and repair projects. Those against expanding its use are concerned about the money being diverted from a road and bridge system in need of extensive repairs. Proponents of the new law, designated Senate Bill 48 in its early stages, claim improved public transportation is a necessity as populations continue to grow.
Opponents also claim that the measure violates the state constitution, which they say mandates use of HUTF money for road and bridge improvement only. Supporters refute this argument, saying the expansion should be considered a road maintenance measure as it pays for traffic-reduction measures, thereby reducing wear and tear on state roads.