An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the allocation of revenues from the state severance tax imposed on minerals and mineral fuels other than oil shale that are extracted in the state, and, in connection therewith, for fiscal years commencing on or after July 1, 2008, requiring half of the revenues to be credited to the local government severance tax fund and the remaining revenues to be credited first to the severance tax trust fund until an annually calculated limit is reached and then to a new Colorado transportation trust fund, which may be used only to fund the construction, maintenance, and supervision of public highways in the state, giving first priority to reducing congestion on the Interstate 70 corridor.
This is another case of a special interest group trying to do an end-run around the legislature and create a specific funding stream targeted directly at their needs. The true purpose of this bill is to provide funds for traffic mitigation on I-70 in the mountains. And to have this funding trump all other transportation and other needs in the state.
What's sad in this particular case is the primary sponsors are legislators. Guys, your job is to sell your funding requests to your peers, not to do an end run around the body you are a member of. You three should be ashamed of yourselves.
Amendment 52 diverts money that would help meet Colorado's rapidly growing water demand and maintain its aging water supply system. Half of the money shifted to highway projects under this measure would be available under current law to provide loans and grants for water projects, water conservation, and other programs. A recent study indicated that current and planned water supply projects are likely to meet about 80 percent of the estimated new demand between 2004 and 2030. By shifting over $100 million in the next four years from water projects to transportation projects, Amendment 52 hurts the state's ability to meet long-term water supply needs.
Amendment 52 could politicize funding for transportation projects. To prevent political considerations from influencing the allocation of transportation money, an independent commission develops a statewide transportation plan that identifies, prioritizes, and selects transportation projects for funding. Giving budgeting authority for some of the money to the state legislature could result in the legislature selecting transportation projects based on political considerations.
Amendment 52 creates a permanent revenue stream for highway projects, with emphasis on congestion relief for I-70. I-70 is a key transportation corridor for both Colorado residents and visitors to the state. The highway supports both intra- and interstate commerce, provides access to key ski and recreational areas, and is an important commuter route.