Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis said he still sees the need for a “transportation solution for the whole state” since two funding measures for roads and highways failed in the Nov. 6 election.
Other than Propositions 109 and 110, which voters rejected, “Everything is on the table,” Polis told more than 100 Colorado Counties Inc. members Monday in Colorado Springs.
“We’re not going to be talking about bonding with no new revenue; we’re not going to be talking about an 0.62 percent sales tax. But every other idea, we want to bring to the table and discuss, to try,” Polis said.
About 61 percent of Colorado voters rejected Proposition 109, which would have let the state borrow up to $3.5 billion in 2019 for transportation projects but did not call for raising taxes to repay the bonds.
About 59 percent of voters turned down Proposition 110, which would have raised the state sales tax by 0.62 percent and allowed up to $6 billion in borrowing to fund transportation needs.
But Polis was vague about what other alternatives might be.
“I think what we have to have now is a broad stakeholder discussion — including with county officials who I’m meeting with here in El Paso County today, with business leaders, with municipal officials from across Colorado — to figure out the path forward,” the Democrat told The Gazette after the session.
During about 13 minutes of remarks to the crowd, Polis touched on several goals that were part of his campaign platform, such as reducing health-care costs and implementing full-day kindergarten.
Keeping a cordial and casual tone, he asked for counties’ collaboration on objectives ranging from fostering economic growth to combating opioid abuse.
He also spoke to rural counties, saying he intended to work with them to expand high speed internet and broadband connectivity.
“I appreciate the fact that he addressed the difference between rural and urban, because we have a lot of rural counties,” said Holly Williams, a Republican newly elected to represent El Paso County District 1. “It’s always going to be, ‘How are we going to balance the metro needs and interests with the rural needs and interests?’ They very much compete against each other.”
Williams also said she was pleased that Polis called for a statewide solution to fund transportation, which she sees as “one of the biggest issues facing the county.”
“We have to get all of us together on the same page,” she said.
Fellow Republican county commissioner Stan VanderWerf said he hopes to help Polis understand counties’ individual responsibilities for infrastructure.
“In El Paso County, we have 2,100 miles of road and over 270 bridges, and we need to maintain as much of our sales tax as possible to maintain those roads,” he said. “I’d like to work with him so that he can have that measure of sensitivity about some of the challenges that counties have.”