Election 2018FeaturedNewsTransportation

Fix Our Damn Roads: No-new-taxes plan makes the Colorado ballot

Author: Joey Bunch - August 22, 2018 - Updated: August 23, 2018

transportationThe “Million Dollar Highway,” U.S. 550, traverses Red Mountain Pass to Ouray via Uncompahgre Gorge (Photo by Reinhard Schön, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The first of two potential questions on paying for transportation qualified for Colorado’s November ballot Wednesday. Called Fix Our Damn Roads, it’s the one that doesn’t include a tax hike.

The Secretary of State’s Office is still counting petitions for another question, which asks voters for a 0.62 percent boost in the state sales tax, proffered by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and other members of a statewide coalition.

> RELATED: Fix Our Damn Roads could ask Colo. voters to force lawmakers to use existing taxes

Both need at least 98,492 valid signatures from registered voters. Supporters of Fix Our Damn Roads, led by the Denver-based conservative think tank the Independence Institute,  submitted 169,568 signatures on Aug. 6. On Wednesday the Secretary of State’s Office said it used a sampling formula to project that 112,872 were valid.

Fix Our Damn Roads would require the state legislature to prioritize spending for transportation with existing sales tax revenue.

Backers of the countermeasure, Initiative 153, said they had turned in 198,261 signatures on the same day. It would raise the state sales tax to finance bonds for up to $6 billion for road and highway improvements, as well as transit projects and a cut of the money for local governments to use on their needs.

> RELATED: Transportation measures’ backers park petitions at secretary of state’s office

Independence Institute President Jon Caldara said he has a very small campaign budget, “enough to print up about a hundred fliers and hand them out.”

He expects the opposition to a tax increase at a time when the state budget is running a billion-dollar surplus to be reason enough for voters to say no. The November ballot also will include other state and local tax requests. Statewide voters also will be asked to raise $1.6 billion for education by raising the corporate tax rate and income taxes on people who earn more than $150,000 a year with Amendment 93.

“There’s no question in the research that we’ve been privy to that if we ask voters if they would like to have their roads fixed without a tax hike or with a tax hike, they choose without,” Caldara said.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.