Heidi Ganahl’s transportation plan would refocus spending on driving and overturn some laws backed by Jared Polis

The second is a 2021 transportation funding bill that will raise billions of dollars for roads, bridges, infrastructure, and incentives for electric vehicles, mass transit, and other transportation projects through at new costs. This bill, she said, circumvents the state’s tax restraint law and spends too little on roads.

“He wants you to take an electric bus everywhere, which is just not feasible for most Coloradans,” she said of the governor.

In fact, while Polis has backed major funding increases for electric vehicles, public transport (except RTD) and other climate-friendly transport efforts, its transport ministry is in the middle of its own decade-long plan to spend billions of dollars. on the roads – including expansion projects.

Ganahl said his transportation plan would not raise taxes. But it would rely on new taxes.

At the heart of Ganahl’s $10 billion transportation plan is a ballot initiative that would pass in 2024. The measure would ask voters to repeal the 2021 transportation bill and its related charges on things like deliveries, ride-sharing services and gasoline and replace that revenue with new taxes that would reflect the fees.

“I’m taking this plan to the voters to get their approval, and we’ll call them taxes as they are,” she said. “That’s the key, it’s just being honest and genuine and transparent with the people of Colorado.”

The transportation taxes in Ganahl’s proposal differ from the fees in the Polis-backed 2021 bill in several important ways. First, the taxes would be temporary and expire in 10 years. Second, there are significant restrictions on how fee revenue can be spent. Ganahl could more easily redirect spending to road projects if the revenue came from taxes. Third, taxes would be approved by voters. The 2021 transportation package fee did not require voter approval due to the way the law was drafted.

Any attempt to gain statewide voter approval for a new transportation tax would likely prove difficult; the last attempt in 2018 failed by 19 points. Legislators’ ability to create fees without voter approval is a key reason Democratic lawmakers used them in their 2021 bill.

“It’ll pass, don’t worry,” Ganahl said of his proposed ballot initiative. She did not specify what her contingency plan would be in the event of failure.

Ganahl’s plan would also rely on $3 billion in public-private partnerships and $3.5 billion in state general fund allocations. She said she was “confident” the Legislature could find that money despite its plans to eliminate state income tax.

“If the people of Colorado are going to approve voter funding, the general assembly needs to meet people halfway,” she said.

Ganahl’s plan calls for miles of new toll lanes and would restore at least one freeway extension that Polis’ CDOT abandoned.

Ganahl embraces toll lanes, which have been standard practice for CDOT for years. His plan calls for continuous toll lanes from Castle Rock to Fort Collins, which would require widening Interstate 25 on the south side of the subway to downtown. CDOT and the Denver Regional Council of Governments have just forgone a planned expansion of part of this stretch of freeway.

Toll lanes would allow for more consistent travel times, Ganahl noted, and could be used by transit buses. Ganahl and his supporters said public transit should be a choice for commuters, not imposed on them.

“The people of Colorado are being punished for driving their cars,” Johnny Olson, a former CDOT executive who supports Ganahl, said at the press conference. “We don’t want that.”

Ganahl did not say whether she would support current bus rapid transit plans on Denver-area arteries that could remove lanes for personal vehicles.

In many ways, Ganahl’s proposal to expand the major highways mirrors that of Polis. CDOT announced Wednesday that it has enough money to add toll lanes on two segments of I-25 between Denver and Fort Collins, resulting in a continuous toll lane between the two cities.

Polis’ CDOT also plans to expand Interstate 270 to Commerce City, which Ganahl erroneously said the agency was dropping. He also plans to extend Interstate 70 to Floyd Hill west of Denver and I-70 to Vail Pass.

A representative of the Polis campaign declined to comment. In a press release, the Colorado Democratic Party called Ganahl’s plan a “vague” collection of ideas.

“Heidi’s first plan is more like a wish list … of things the governor is already doing,” party spokeswoman Kailee Stiles said in a statement.

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