DENVER — When you open your November ballot once it gets mailed later this fall, you'll find two issues asking you to vote on funding for road projects.
What will likely be called Proposition 109 -- the Secretary of State's Office hasn't finalized the proposition numbers yet -- is the proposal to borrow money without raising taxes to pay for 66 specific highway projects.
What will likely be called Proposition 110 is the proposal to borrow money by raising the state sales tax for 20 years to pay for local, state, highway and multimodal projects
Likely Proposition 109 - Fix Our Damn Roads
A "Yes" vote on Proposition 109 allows the state to borrow $3.5 billion for 66 specific highway projects across the state, to be repaid using money already in the state's budget, without raising taxes or fees.
A "No" vote does not allow the Colorado Department of Transportation to borrow new money.
While the proposal calls for $3.5 billion in new money, the 66 projects listed actually cost $5.6 billion.
There's another caveat. A "Yes" vote would also replace funding the state legislature allocated for CDOT in 2017 and 2018, so while you'd be approving $3.5 billion in loans, it would really only be $1 billion more than if this weren't to pass.
In 2018, the legislature passed Senate Bill 1, which the Governor signed into law. It requires $50 million of general fund money to be transferred each year for 20 years to the state highway fund for road projects That equals $1 billion in road funding. What the law also includes is a caveat that if this proposition passes on the 2018 ballot, that $1 billion in funding does not happen. The law also removes funding that the state legislature passed in 2017.
In 2017, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 267, which the Governor signed into law. It allowed the state to sell buildings it owned to investors, and then use that money to fund $2 billion in road projects, while at the same time buying back those buildings through lease payments.
If this passes, you're really only approving $1 billion in addition funds. The proposition allows for $3.5 billion, but when you subtract the $1.5 billion that goes away from the 2017 law and the $1 billion that goes away from the 2018 law, you're left with only $1 billion in additional road funds, without raising taxes.
If this passes, the money CDOT borrows can only be used to fund these 66 projects.
The state would have 20 years to pay back the borrowed money, which with interest would be $5.2 billion. The state estimates that would be about $260 million each year. State lawmakers would have to find that money within the current general fund budget that pays for education, health care, courts and prisons.
A "YES" vote will not fund each of these projects, it simply requires CDOT to use the money on these projects only.
Likely Proposition 110 - Let's Go Colorado
A "YES" vote on Proposition 110 allows the state to borrow $6 billion for roads projects throughout the state, by raising the state's sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent for 20 years.
A "NO" vote does not increase the state sales tax and does not allow CDOT to borrow new money.
Increasing the state sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent costs six cents for every $10 spent.
If this were to pass, that $5 coffee you bought this morning would cost three extra cents each time.
The state estimates the following increases that families might experiences:
- Family Income $42,272
- $98 additional sales tax paid each year
- Family Income $74,374
- $131 additional sales tax paid each year
- Family Income $83,473
- $156 additional sales tax paid each year
- Family Income $190,232
- $250 additional sales tax paid each year
A "YES" vote requires the state to divvy up the new money as follows:
- 45 percent: CDOT
- 40 percent: Local Governments
- 15 percent: Multimodal projects
The projects that CDOT would use this money to fund would be decided by the 11-member Transportation Commission.
Multimodal projects refer to bike paths, sidewalks and public transit.
The state estimates that it would cost $470 million a year over 20 years to repay the borrowed money, which with interest would be $9.4 billion.
After 20 years, the state sales tax would revert to 2.9 percent, assuming voters don't make any changes to the state sales tax between 2019 and 2038.
The two propositions are not either/or choice.
You can vote yes on both. You can vote yes on one and not the other. You can vote no on both.
The two ballot issues are independent of each other and stand alone.