Republicans go against GOP Senate leader, kill transportation bill

DENVER -- How quickly things can change at the State Capitol.

In March, Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham sat in the same room and smiled at the compromise reached to raise the sales tax in exchange for new revenue for transportation.

That mood has drastically changed.

In the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, Republicans killed the measure, going against Grantham, who supported the measure.

"I was pretty much a 'no' from the start of the bill," said State Sen. Tim Neville, the Republican chair of the committee. "I mean it's a large tax increase and there is no guarantee the money will go where it needs to go."

Similar sentiments were shared by the other two Republican senators on the committee, Owen Hill and Jack Tate.

At the Colorado Department of Transportation, the reality is the status quo will remain the same in the state. Colorado has a $9 billion transportation shortfall over the next several years.

"We have projects that will sit on the shelf and they will remain on the shelf until we have funding for them," CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said.

There is some optimism that lawmakers will make progress on the issue, but with less than 11 days to go before the end of session, the prospect is bleak for this year.

If lawmakers don't act on another measure, Sandra Solin with Fix Colorado Roads believes signatures will be collected to create ballot measures.

"It's very likely we will see an initiative or possibly two on November's ballot," Solin said.