Proposition 109: Voters to decide on highway funding

Published: Nov. 6, 2018 at 12:50 AM MST
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A breakdown of Proposition 109 by the state ballot information booklet in Colorado:

109 proposes to amend the Colorado Statutes to:

- Require the state to borrow up to $3.5 billion in 2019 to fund up to 66 specific highway projects;

- Direct the state to identify a source of funds to repay the borrowed amount without raising taxes or

fees; and

-Limit the total repayment amount, including principal and interest, to $5.2 billion over 20 years.

Borrowed money under Proposition 109 may only be used for road and bridge expansion, construction, maintenance, and repair on the 66 transportation projects located throughout the state identified in the measure on pages 59 through 63. The funding provided through the measure is not enough to pay for all the projects identified in the measure; the estimated cost of the projects is $5.6 billion. The final selection and order of construction will be determined by CDOT and the Transportation Commission, an 11-member body appointed by the Governor to prioritize statewide transportation needs.

Arguments For

1) Proposition 109 accelerates the construction of essential highway projects without raising taxes or fees. Building and maintaining a highway system are core functions of government. The state has failed to invest sufficient funds to maintain and expand the highway system. The measure corrects this by directing the state to prioritize highway projects ahead of other programs.

2) The lack of highway capacity is the most significant contributor to traffic congestion in the state and causes delays, increases business costs, and reduces driver and passenger safety. The measure requires the state to invest more money in transportation, improving the state's economy and quality of life.

Arguments Against

1) Proposition 109 commits up to $5.2 billion to repay borrowing without creating a new source of revenue. This commitment diverts money from other programs, which may include education, health care, and routine transportation maintenance. Furthermore, the measure would pay for only a portion of the projects and fails to address the cost of ongoing maintenance of these projects.

2) In 2018, the state demonstrated its commitment to transportation funding by pledging $1.0 billion from existing revenue sources. If Proposition 109 passes, it replaces this commitment with borrowed money. Borrowing is expensive. Under this measure, approximately $1.7 billion in taxpayer money will be spent on interest payments.