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Bill Would Ask Voters For Tax Hike To Pay For Roads

DENVER (CBS4)- A bill designed to improve Colorado's roads will ask voters to approve a tax increase. The money would pay for transportation projects needed across the state.

Although the legislation doesn't specify exactly which projects would benefit from the money, the Colorado Department of Transportation's priorities include widening Interstate 25 north and south of Denver. Those priorities also include expanding Interstate 70 west.

Under the bill voters will be asked to approve an increase in the state sales tax from 2.9 to 3.52. That would generate nearly $680 million dollars a year for the next 20 years.

Lawmakers want to leverage that for a $3.5 billion bond package so CDOT could start the projects right away.

interstate 70 I-70 Traffic snowy
Traffic on I-70 (credit: CBS)

Of the $680 million, $300 million would be used to make payments on the bonds; $265 million would go to local governments for transportation projects; and $115 million would go to things like buses, light rail and bike lanes.

In addition to new taxes, the measure also redirects $50 million from other state projects to transportation.

"We are still working on things but we have laid the groundwork here for what I'm sure is going to be a very vibrant discussion over the next few weeks," said Senate Pres. Kevin Grantham, a Republican representing Canon City.

"It's about the next generation and how does the next generation have the ability to have the same quality of life we have shared," said Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Democrat representing Denver.

The sponsors of the bill are the Democratic Speaker of the House and the Republican President of the Senate. The bi-partisanship is a good sign the bill may survive.

It takes two-thirds of the House and Senate to refer a tax question to voters and there's already push back from some key Republicans.

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