Colorado highways need funding

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 2:39 PM

By J. Paul Brown

The second regular session of the 70th Colorado General Assembly of the Colorado House of Representatives was called to order by Speaker of the House Dickie Lee Hullinghorst on January 13, 2016, following a prayer. After the posting of the colors, the Speaker began the first day with a speech on what she hoped would be accomplished in the next 120 days. Then Minority Leader of the House, Brian DelGrosso, talked about what the Republican Caucus expects to accomplish in this session.

Among other things, Mr. DelGrosso emphasized the need for affordable housing in Colorado and urged the passage of construction defect legislation that will protect home owners from bad building contractors and protect home builders from frivolous lawsuits. This legislation is supported by all of the business organizations in the state. He stressed that at times government needs to get out of the way, so that free people can make a living and create jobs.

The Minority Leader also stressed the need for maintaining our highways and outlined proposed legislation that will put more money into highways. He said, "The Department of Transportation is struggling to maintain our existing roads, and without a large infusion of funding, their list of critical transportation projects will likely never be completed."

I am running one of the bills which will require at least some additional funding for highways. This bill will guarantee the five years of transfers promised in Senate Bill 09-228 by adding one year of transfers for every year that the transfers are not fully appropriated. In 2009, the legislature replaced SB97-001 with SB 228. SB 1 required general fund transfers into highways almost every year. Even though SB 228 was supposed to trigger five years of general fund transfers to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), not one dollar has gone into highways until this year. My bill will guarantee full transfers for the full five years.

Another question that I share with many others: "Are we using transportation funding in the most efficient way possible?" I am running a bill with Senator Baumgartner and Representative Nordberg which will require more transparency and efficiency by CDOT. A recent FASTER audit revealed that taxpayer dollars are not being used efficiently and that CDOT does not have transparent processes in place to prioritize highway projects. Our bill requires an audit of all construction and maintenance funds as well as an annual budget transparency report to the Transportation Commission, implements transparency measures for CDOT bidding processes, ensures CDOT closes contracts within a reasonable amount of time following completion, and requires CDOT to seek legislative approval to bond out for facilities. This bill will make CDOT more accountable to both the Transportation Commission and the Legislature.

I am excited to serve the people of the 59th District and to make government more efficient and accountable to Colorado taxpayers.

J. Paul Brown of Ignacio is State Representative for Colorado House District 59. He can be reached during the session at (303) 866-2914.