Transit fund diversion bill killed

Broad opposition to a freshman lawmaker’s bill to divert transit money toward the state’s roads and bridges was enough to kill it Wednesday before it had its first hearing in the Colorado Legislature.

Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, hoped to take the $15 million earned from the state’s vehicle-registration fee used to fund local transit projects and put it into building and maintaining the state’s roads.

But local governments, many of which benefit from that transit money, told Becker before his measure went before the House Transportation Committee that they didn’t like it.

As a result, he asked the 13-member panel to kill it.

“I was rather disappointed to see that (Colorado Counties Inc. and the Colorado Municipal League) weren’t as strong in support of this bill as I thought,” Becker said. “In wanting to take a better look and ... get with more people on how we would put this bill together in order to help out those local communities, even though I think this is a great bill, I would ask the transportation committee to (kill) this bill.”

Local governments and transit officials statewide said the money provided needed funding for various transit projects around the state.

The money stems from a controversial measure approved by the Legislature two years ago that increased vehicle-registration fees. Called the FASTER bill, that measure generates about $250 million a year for transportation, $15 million of which funds various transit projects in the form of matching grants.

In December, Grand Valley Transit received one of the first grants from that money, $800,000, to it help build a new transfer station near Mesa Mall, 2424 U.S. Highway 6&50.

“Most of these projects would not be able to go forward without the FASTER money,” said Elena Wilkin, executive director of the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies. “What’s more, communities have been able to leverage these awards from the FASTER fund to pull in $6 million in new federal funding to help keep our transit systems safe.”


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