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Roads statewide are in dire need of repairs, but who will fix our 'damn' roads?

Posted at 6:37 PM, Aug 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 16:32:02-04

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DENVER -- Roads statewide are in dire need of repairs. A new ballot initiative would earmark $3.5 billion to upgrade our state’s roads and highways. The money would supposedly come from bonds, without raising taxes. But is that really the case? 

In the words of a new transportation initiative, fixing our "damn" roads is a hot bed issue across our state. Colorado's population has exploded in the past 10 years, and our roads have paid the price. The $3.5 billion plan would repair 65 major roads statewide, including sections of 1-25 in Fort Collins and the Springs, supposedly at no cost to the taxpayer. 

Jon Caldara, with the conservative Independence Institute, is the mastermind behind the plan which will appear on the November ballot.

“As people have flooded our state the infrastructure has crumbled,” he told Denver7. Ten years ago the state put 10 percent into the budget toward road building. Now it's 6 percent. Your viewers know that because they drive on these crowded roads."

Caldara said the new Trump tax plan will generate a serious windfall to the state... in taxes.

“Legislative council says we'll be getting close to $900 million in a few years. What we're saying is, take a third of that money and use it to fix our roads.”

Caldara said the Trump plan will cut federal taxes but will generate a massive tax on the state side this year -- a third of that money will fund the plan through bonds. So basically, we'll be taxed but we won't be re-taxed.

In essence, "Fix Our Damn Roads" does not raise taxes but our taxes are being raised anyway.

Confused? You're not alone.

Kathie Novak is a business professor at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.  

“The bottom line is, if we're serious about fixing the roads we need a dedicated funding source to do this. I don't think this is it,” she told Denver7.

Novak said dedicating $3.5 billion to transportation would take away money from other worthy causes such as healthcare or education. She's also not sure about the $900 million slush fund.

“By asking to take these kinds of revenues to dedicate to roads, that means we're going to have to take them from somewhere else. I don't think there's this magic pile of money that's hidden somewhere in the state capitol to fund it,” Novak said. 

So almost everyone agrees, our roads could use a little TLC. The question is, are you willing to pay for it out of your own pocket?

We hit the bumpy streets to hear from you.

“Nobody wants money out of their own pocket, right?” said Denver resident Tom Rouleau.

“I would be willing to invest for the city and my kids and for their future and Denver's future," said Cindy Zarlengo.

“Would it be okay if you funded most of the project?”

“No it wouldn't," Zarlengo said.

So let's bring it back. The "Fix Our Damn Roads" initiative will fix Colorado roads, but at what price? You may want to fasten your seatbelt. The road to fixing our "damn" roads will run through the ballot box on November… and it may be a bumpy ride.  

There is a competing transportation initiative -- Initiative 110 -- that will also be on the November ballot. It does involve a tax increase. Voters will have the final say in a few months.