Ritter proposes transportation fund increase

A Senate bill signed into law in March may help state transportation funding climb 6 percent next year.

Gov. Bill Ritter proposed a $1.03 billion transportation budget Monday for the 2010–2011 fiscal year. Although the number is higher than the current year’s $973.5 million, the $1.03 billion figure is lower than transportation funding in 2007 and 2008, and ties with the 2006 budget.

The Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery (FASTER) bill signed earlier this year is expected to generate $160.6 million for the state transportation fund. The law increased fees, fines and surcharges, such as vehicle registration fees and rental car surcharges.

Mesa County is expected to receive an 18 percent boost in the historical average amount it receives from the Highway Users Tax Fund because of FASTER. Local agencies are expected to get $61.1 million extra next year for transportation projects because of the law.

“As we all know, federal and state transportation revenue has been declining for years, while at the same time transportation demands and construction costs have been increasing,” Ritter is quoted as saying in a news release. “Thanks to FASTER, we’re going to stop the rapid deterioration of our transportation system and create a framework that leads to a modern transportation system that’s good for our communities, our economy and our citizens.”

House Majority Leader Terrance Carroll stood beside the governor during a press conference Monday afternoon at the state Capitol. Carroll said the FASTER bill took action where others had failed to pass transportation reform.

“I hear that some people don’t like this and are mad at us. Some people will continue to take pot shots at us, but that’s way better than potholes,” Carroll said in a news release.

The governor will present more budget proposals to the joint budget committee in three days.


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