Coming to a ballot near you this November – no statewide ballot measures!

Colorado voters will get a bit of a respite this year, now that there isn’t anyone or any group planning to run a ballot measure on transportation for the November election. But don’t get too comfortable: those who were thinking about asking for voter approval in 2017 to start fixing the state’s $9 billion backlog of transportation projects vow they’ll be back in 2018.

Two groups had proposed a slew of initiatives to solve what the General Assembly could not in 2017: finding at least some of the dollars to whittle away at the list of road and bridge repairs sought by the state Department of Transportation. The Colorado Contractors’ Association, which had looked at a solution similar to a sales tax increase proposed by legislative leaders, dropped out earlier this month.

Association executive director Tony Milo said that the problem wouldn’t solve itself and that the association’s goal remains the same: “to establish a long-term, sustainable funding source that will address our transportation needs at the state and local level.” The Association’s coalition, FixItCO, still plans to pursue a ballot measure in 2018, according to Milo’s June 7 statement.

With the contractors and their coalition, FixItCO, out of the ballot race for 2017, that left the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute as the last player standing. This week, Institute Executive Director Jon Caldara said, they, too, will not pursue a ballot measure this fall. The Institute’s proposal, known as “Fix Our Damn Roads,” would direct the General Assembly to find money for the transportation projects out of the existing state budget.

“It’s just not going to happen,” Caldara told The Colorado Independent today but said that he intends to refile for next year. “There just wasn’t enough time to get all the signatures” needed in order to make the deadlines for this November’s ballot. By refiling next year, the ballot measure would have as much as six months for petition signatures.

The Institute’s ballot measure is statutory, so it does not meet the requirements of Amendment 71, aka, Raise the Bar, which set a higher standard for ballot measures that would change the state constitution.

What that means is that there won’t be any statewide ballot measures for 2017, the first time the odd-year ballot hasn’t had a question for voters since 2009. Odd-year elections can only include ballot measures that address a tax question.


Photo credit: _ChrisUK via Creative Commons license, Flickr