Bad timing for proposed fee hike |

Bad timing for proposed fee hike

It’s indisputable that Colorado’s roads and bridges need to be fixed. Anyone who’s had to dodge potholes on our local roads and highways lately can attest to that.

It costs a lot of money to do these repairs, so much that legislation is being floated to raise between $180 million and $300 million annually.

We realize it’s critical to repair our dilapidated highways and bridges, but we’re not convinced the proposal now before the Legislature is the right way to do it.

Senate Bill 244 essentially is a sweep­ing hike of up to $75 in vehicle ­registration fees. New fees would include $25 extra to renew most vehi­cles, a $15 charge on trailers, and a $6 fee on rental vehicles.

The biggest drawback to SB 244 is that the residents whose pocketbooks will be hardest hit are those who can’t afford new cars. Indeed, the bill would boost the bottom-rate annual fee of $3, which is charged to the owners of old­er cars, to $75. (Those who currently pay the $3 fee for the older models would be grandfathered in.) Most recently, lawmakers said they likely would scrap that component of the bill. We think that is a wise choice, given today’s economic climate.

Speaking of the economy, we also question the timing of 244. Colorado, along with the rest of America, is in the midst of a slumping economy that seems to be getting worse.

While we understand that our roads and bridges need to be fixed, the tim­ing of this bill (which was introduced last week) makes us cringe. Well aware of the economic plight we’re in, law­makers likely assumed that they would have a better chance of raising money to fix the roads and bridges by propos­ing a fee hike, which doesn’t require voter approval, instead of proposing a tax increase, which does.

Lawmakers have used such dramat­ic words as “crisis” to describe the con­ditions of Colorado’s highways and bridges. Perhaps they are right, but we can’t support the solution proposed in SB 244.

We hope this bill won’t survive, and it appears to be losing traction. Legisla­tors should take a more creative and well-reasoned approach to fixing our roads, but SB 244 is the wrong tool for this job.

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