360: Plans to push a sales tax hike are moving forward in Colorado

Money raised would help Colorado roads

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DENVER -- A statewide coalition that includes the Metro Denver of Chamber of Commerce is moving forward with plans to file ballot initiatives to raise the state sales tax in order to raise more money to pay for Colorado road projects.

The four proposed sales tax hikes would vary, ranging from 0.5 percent to 1 percent, depending on financial projections expected next month. Only one of the proposals is expected to be pursued after those forecasts are released.

Denver7 asked supporters why focus on a sales tax increase?

 "We have over 80 million visitors a year to Colorado, they buy things here and are going to help us pay for it.  And we think they should help pay for our roads.  They're using them and they should help us maintain them and improve them," said Kelly Brough, President and CEO, Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce

The funds raised could be used for local priorities including bike lanes, bus service or bridges.  A funding formula would determine who gets what.

The sales tax surge could raise anywhere from 500-million to 1-billion dollars a year...so it wouldn't fix everything.

Under the TABOR amendment, Colorado voters are required to vote on any state.  In this case, signatures would need to be collected before the measure can appear on the November 2018 ballot.

"Nobody wants to pay more taxes, but nobody wants to sit in traffic or have damage to their vehicles or get into a car accident and have the safety issues we have in Colorado either. And we know those safety investments can help with those things." said Brough.

Meantime, some lawmakers want to dedicate a portion of existing sales tax revenue and dedicate it to roads and transportation.

Yet critics fear rerouting money will hurt other parts of our state.

 "That's a pretty big commitment, money that's already going to pay for things like education, health care, higher education," said state senator Rachel Zenzinger, (D) Arvada.

The tax would not be permanent; it would sunset in the future unless voters reauthorize it.

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