Seeking the support of enough Republicans in the Colorado state Senate to push through a transportation tax-hike proposal, Senate President Kevin Grantham made several major changes to the bill during a committee hearing Tuesday, including the reduction of the proposed tax increase from 0.62 cents to 0.5.

Grantham, R-Cañon City, also committed $100 million per year from the state’s general fund to a new 20-year stream of revenue that would be used to cover roughly $3.5 billion a year in highway expansion projects, as well as generating additional funding for local roads and creating a new multi-billion-dollar multi-modal transportation grant fund.

And he ensured through yet another amendment that the Colorado Department of Transportation received a percentage of the annual revenues from the tax for construction and maintenance of state roads rather than a previously capped amount of $375 million per year.

The changes were enough to get House Bill 1242 through the Senate Transportation Committee with a 3-2 vote that included the support of committee chairman Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, and the committee’s two Democratic members — not a surprising tally, given that Baumgardner is a co-sponsor of the bill with Grantham and that every Democrat in the House backed the measure.

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