Penry promises rough road for FASTER transportation bill

Not sounding quite as conciliatory as his state Senate Republican colleague Al White, R-Hayden, minority leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Tuesday he’ll do everything in his power to slow down FASTER.

That’s the name of a proposal by Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, to up vehicle registration fees $32 a year to raise more than $200 million for road and bridge fixes around the state. FASTER stands for Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery.

SB 108 passed out of committee on a 6-4 party-line vote Tuesday and will now be debated by the full Senate.

Penry told the Daily Sentinel the battle is shaping up because Democrats have refused to accept any compromises offered by Republicans to reduce the fees in a time of economic hardship.

“We made a sincere good-faith effort, but we’re not going to unwittingly be a party to really bad public policy,” he said. “Negotiations have gridlocked.”

White told the Colorado Independent earlier in the week that he thinks compromise will be reached and the bill will pass out of the Senate.

“We will pass a transportation bill. I don’t sense that either caucus is inextricably deadlocked and unable to reach consensus,” White said.

Senate Majority Leader Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, told the Daily Sentinel Republicans are the ones being stubborn.

“Nobody is excited about raising fees on anybody, but, at the same time, we feel there is a public safety issue out there,” Shaffer said. “We’ve got to fix bridges, and we’ve also got to put people to work.”

And nobody, apparently, is putting much stock in federal stimulus dollars as a stopgap measure.

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