Colorado Senate votes to raise vehicle fees |

Colorado Senate votes to raise vehicle fees

Colleen Slevin
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” The Colorado Senate backed a bill raising vehicle registration fees to pay for road and bridge repairs on Thursday, voting 19-16 to send the bill on to the House.

The bill would require owners of cars and SUVs to pay an extra $32 this year and then $41 the next year. The bill would also raise truck fees, impose a $2 daily fee on car rentals and allow tolls on existing roads if surrounding communities support it.

The fees would raise about $250 million a year, which backers say can be used for bonds to fix highways and more than 100 bridges rated as poor. Supporters also say the projects would save thousands of construction jobs starting this year.

Two Democrats joined with all the chamber’s Republicans in voting against the measure (Senate Bill 108), which is being promoted by Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Bill Ritter.

Republicans opposed tolling on roads taxpayers have already paid for and continued to warn against raising fees during a recession.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said the fees would hurt people who can barely afford a car. Drivers of older cars currently pay around $25 to register their cars each year.

“This car tax is coming down hardest on those who can least afford it,” he said.

Democrats had courted Republicans in hopes that some would support the difficult decision to raise fees. Sponsor Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, and others emphasized the points they agreed on during the debate.

But after the debate Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry said the defection of two Democrats ” Morgan Carroll of Aurora and Lois Tochtrop of Thornton ” showed that the Republicans were the only ones with a bipartisan stance on transportation.

Carroll shares the Republicans’ objection to tolling, but little else. She thinks the bill will create jobs but opposes another provision that would allow the state to raise money by borrowing against its buildings, which was added to try to win some Republican support for the bill.

Carroll said some new fees are necessary but would rather see businesses that rely on the goods and services that travel on the state’s highways chip in more than ordinary drivers. She said she might eventually support the bill if some changes are made in the House.

“If we wait for complete consensus, we will have collapsed bridges and roads,” she said.

Currently, 94 percent of the state’s bridges are listed in good or fair condition, but 126 bridges are in poor condition, 10 more than last year.

State engineers say poor bridges aren’t unsafe but need constant maintenance and inspections. Sometimes weight restrictions can also be imposed.

The bill is aimed at fixing 125 of the poor bridges over four years. There likely won’t be enough money to replace the 126th bridge ” the Interstate 70 viaduct near the Denver Coliseum ” which would cost $800 million. The alternative is to spend $20 million on temporary fixes.

The 19-16 roll call by which the Colorado Senate gave final approval to a measure (Senate Bill 108) raising fees for vehicle registrations, trucking permits and rental cars and allowing tolling of existing roads.

Voting “yes” were 19 Democrats.

Voting “no” were all the chamber’s 14 Republicans and two Democrats.

Democrats voting yes:

Bob Bacon, Fort Collins; Betty Boyd, Lakewood; Joyce Foster, Denver; Dan Gibbs, Silverthorne; Peter Groff, Denver; Rollie Heath, Boulder; Mary Hodge, Brighton; Evie Hudak, Westminster; Jim Isgar, Hesperus; Moe Keller, Wheat Ridge; John Morse, Colorado Springs; Linda Newell, Littleton; Chris Romer, Denver; Paula Sandoval, Denver; Gayle Schwartz, Snowmass Village; Brandon Shaffer, Longmont; Abel Tapia, Pueblo; Jennifer Veiga, Denver; Suzanne Williams, Aurora.

Democrats voting no:

Morgan Carroll, Aurora; Lois Tochtrop, Thornton.

Republicans voting yes:


Republicans voting no:

Greg Brophy, Wray; Bill Cadman, Colorado Springs; Ted Harvey, Colorado Springs; Ken Kester, Las Animas; Keith King, Colorado Springs; Mike Kopp, Littleton; Kevin Lundberg, Berthoud; Shawn Mitchell, Broomfield; Josh Penry, Fruita; Scott Renfroe, Greeley; Mark Scheffel, Parker; Dave Schultheis, Colorado Springs; Nancy Spence, Centennial; Al White, Hayden.

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