Dear Members of the Joint Budget Committee and the Colorado General Assembly,
As Chamber and economic development leaders in Colorado, we are in the business of making our local communities and economies thrive. Thriving and sustainable communities and economies – whether local or statewide - are built on a number of factors. Strong schools, a healthy environment and a transportation system that effectively and efficiently moves people and goods are these critical factors.
Thanks to Colorado’s robust economy, economic reports indicate that, for the second consecutive year, over $1 billion in new revenue will be available for base budgeting during the 2019 Legislative Session. These are not “one-time” funds but, rather, dollars that will carry over year after year and further build as the economy grows.
There are many important funding priorities. The Governor’s recent budget request outlined his priorities. To support a sustained and thriving Colorado economy, it is imperative that funding Colorado’s transportation infrastructure be among your top funding priorities this year. With the funds available, the good news is that investment in transportation doesn’t need to come at the expense of other priorities.
Additionally, finding new, long term, and dedicated funding sources – sources that are politically and financially viable -- is the other half of the funding equation for transportation. As conversations unfold about accelerating future transportation modes, it’s imperative that we look to the future and modernize our funding approaches by creating equitable and mixed methodologies to adequately address the enormity of our transportation funding shortfall. Further, to deliver and accelerate large scale and regionally significant transportation projects across the state, leveraging funds through any and all available finance tools is smart and prudent.
As demonstrated by their support of local bond and tax questions, voters appreciate the value of leveraging identified funds to maximize the ability to deliver projects cost effectively and expeditiously.
Finally, any proposal for transportation funding and finance needs to be specific about what transportation projects will be built. Voters expressed an unwillingness during the last election to go big to fund generic transportation needs but they have, time and again, shown they are willing to fund specific projects that have direct benefit to them.
Voters also have demonstrated their appreciation for bold vision, so we should not shy from tackling our greatest transportation challenges or offering innovative solutions.
Failure to address the challenge before us is no longer an option. The cost of projects will continue to rise, travel times will increase, and tourist and recreation destinations will become less attractive. Further, the ability to engage in commerce will become more challenging and economic opportunities will be lost as businesses choose to relocate to other states that invest in their infrastructure.
Ultimately, a failing economy due to a lack of investment in infrastructure will erode economic gains that fund our schools and the other budget priorities we all care about.
To assure a sustained and thriving Colorado economy, we look forward to working with you to find a meaningful, long-term solution to our transportation challenge.
Carol Salter, Chair of the Board - Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance
Rod Slyhoff, President and CEO - Pueblo Chamber of Commerce
David May, President and CEO - Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce
Kevin Hougen, President and CEO - Aurora Chamber of Commerce
Chris Romer, President and CEO - Vail Valley Partnership
Angie Anderson, President and CEO - Glenwood Springs Chamber
Mindy McCloughan, President and CEO - Loveland Chamber of Commerce
Kami Welch, President - Arvada Chamber of Commerce
Sarah MacQuiddy, President and CEO - Greeley Chamber of Commerce
Diane Schwenke, President and CEO - Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce
Kelly Brough, President and CEO - Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
Robert Golden, President and CEO - South Metro Chamber of Commerce
Juliet Abdel, President and CEO - Westminster Chamber of Commerce
Rich Werner, President and CEO - Upstate Colorado Economic Development
John Tayer, President and CEO - Boulder Chamber of Commerce
Sam Taylor, President/CEO - Broomfield Chamber of Commerce
Kristi Pollard, President and CEO - Jefferson County EDC
Board of Directors - Northwest Chamber Alliance
Scott Cook, CEO - Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce
Board of Directors - Northern Colorado Economic Alliance
Jose Beteta, Executive Director - The Latino Chamber of Commerce
T.J. Sullivan, Executive Director - Superior Chamber of Commerce
Board of Directors - Douglas County Business Alliance
Pam Riddler, President and CEO - Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce
Dennis Houston, CEO - Parker Chamber of Commerce
Amy Sherman, President and CEO - Northwest Douglas County EDC
Andrea LaRew, President -The Chamber of Northwest Douglas County