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An idea for Colorado gas tax vote amid transportation bill debate

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Just as state lawmakers begin debating a transportation bill that comes with a new fee at the gas pump, an effort started to have voters try to lower the gas tax

DENVER — Just as state lawmakers in Colorado begin debate on a transportation bill that comes with a new pennies per gallon fee at the gas pump, an effort has started to have voters try to lower the state’s gas tax, on which that fee will be added.

Senate Bill 260 is the transportation bill that will:

  • Add 27 cents in fees to deliveries
  • Create up to 30 cents in fees per rideshare
  • Two dollars per day fee on carshares
  • Increase registration fees for electric vehicles
  • Temporarily reduce registration fees for everyone else for two years

It would also add new fees at the pump:

  • July 2022: Additional two cents per gallon
  • 2023: Additional three cents per gallon
  • 2024: Additional four cents per gallon
  • 2025: Additional five cents per gallon
  • 2026: Additional six cents per gallon
  • 2027: Additional seven cents per gallon
  • 2028: Additional eight cents per gallon

The new fees are estimated to create $3.8 billion in new money over 10 years. Overall, the transportation bill would bring in $5.2 billion. The money would be spent on roads, multimodal and encouraging electric vehicle usage.

RELATED: Why lawmakers don’t have to ask you before spending $3.8 billion on fixing Colorado roads

RELATED: ‘It’s time to finally fix our damn roads’: Polis, state legislative leaders announce transportation bill

“Our voters care deeply about education, and said, ‘don’t cut education to fill a pothole, but fill my pothole’ and that’s what we’re doing,” said State Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster.

Winter has worked on transportation legislative solutions for years.

She has been BFFs with Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, as they have held meetings with different groups impacted by transportation fees.

“We had 132 stakeholder meetings,” said Winter.

“Senator Winter and I spent the entire summer and fall talking to people from across the state,” said Gray. “We want to modernize how we collect transportation revenue, and what that looks more like is charging people based on how they use the roads, not how many gallons of gas they buy.”

Colorado’s gas tax has been 22 cents per gallon since 1992. Unlike other states, it has not moved with inflation.

“If we were to have allowed that 30 years ago, we would now be at 44 cents a gallon,” said State Sen. Steve Fenberg, Senate Majority Leader, D-Boulder.

“The legislature has gone to such great lengths to remove the voters from this conversation,” said Jesse Mallory, State Director for Americans for Prosperity Colorado.

The conservative-minded group just started the process to get one of two gas tax reduction issues on the November 2022 ballot.

Either proposal would require the collection of 124,632 valid Colorado voter signatures.

One proposal would reduce Colorado’s gas tax from 22 cents per gallon two cents to 20 cents per gallon starting in 2023. The other proposal would reduce it four cents to 18 cents per gallon.

“Our proposal is simple. It adds the voters into this conversation from the thing that they should have been included in all along,” said Mallory. “We’re going to go to the voters and give them the opportunity to say, ‘hey, do you want to see a reduction of what the state just increased?'”

Winter believes voters have been involved, through the stakeholder process and by electing senators and representatives.

“When I talk to my voters, they all want to get out of traffic. They want better roads,” said Winter.

RELATED: What counts as infrastructure? It’s a key sticking point in Biden plan negotiations

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