Lawmakers reach compromise on transportation funding bill

Senate Republicans and Democrats smoked a peace pipe Wednesday in their heated debate over a transportation funding bill called FASTER (Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery).

Democrats, including Senate sponsor Dan Gibbs (D-Silverthorne), agreed to axe tolling on existing roads if local governments agree, and also dropped a controversial pilot program to charge drivers based on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), which would have required GPS tracking.

Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry (R-Grand Junction), who Tuesday promised a battle royal over SB 108, told the Rocky Mountain News that progress was made but that proposed vehicle registration fees at the heart of the bill still need to come down and that some money needs to come from the general budget to pay for badly needed road and bridge repairs.

Sen. Al White (R-Hayden) proposed cutting the $32 fee hike in the first year in half and then letting it go up to $41 each of the next three years after that. A plan to allow the fee hike to go up in line with inflation also was axed.

White told the Colorado Independent he expects the spirit of compromise to continue and that the bill will eventually be passed in some form or another. At the $41 level, SB 108, which also includes a $2 per-vehicle rental car fee hike, would raise more than $250 million a year.

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