ENDORSEMENT: Prop 110 is a practical solution for Colorado gridlock; Prop 109 is just dangerous whining

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Deciding between this year’s two dueling transportation questions on the 2018 ballot is easy.

Prop 110, Let’s Go Colorado, asks for a small sales tax increase in exchange for $6 billion worth of desperately needed transportation improvements near your home and across the state.

Prop 109, Fix Our Damn Roads, takes $3.5 billion away from schools, colleges, public safety or other services and forces the state to build a proscribed list of projects that may not even make sense by the time Colorado gets the roads cash.

If you still have questions, read on.

Voters are being forced to choose a way to fund desperately needed transportation expansion and repairs because state lawmakers, split between two parties, can’t reach a compromise on how to pay for road projects.  With rapid growth and rapidly deteriorating roads and bridges, it’s become one of Colorado’s biggest problems.

Key Republicans insist that Colorado has plenty of money to pay for road projects right now, but the state spends it on frivolous luxuries such as public schools, health care for the poor and state colleges. They’re unequivocally wrong. It’s a childish and dangerous game they play, and it’s clear not all Republicans feel the same way, just the ones currently in charge.

Colorado has long been a frugal state, which regularly ranks far toward the bottom of the list of states’ spending on roads, schools and just about everything else residents deem important.

The situation is made worse because the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which not only forbids lawmakers from raising taxes without voter approval, mandates increased tax revenues during good years be given to select residents. So when the economy is strong like it is now, it doesn’t mean there’s substantially more money for roads or anything else.

Over 20 years of living with TABOR, the state’s infrastructure has deteriorated to nearly third-world status, rural schools have been forced into four-day school weeks and families have had to suffer astronomical college tuition hikes just to try and keep the wheels on state government in Colorado.

There is no money for roads beyond what the state is already spending. And that’s simply not enough to tackle the $9 billion in unmet needs. And that number is growing.

Prop 109 could be the death knell for already struggling schools or programs that provide healthcare to Colorado’s poorest residents.

And Fix Our Damn Roads comes with a written-in-legal-stone list of projects it must fund. It’s billions of dollars of projects that would be hard or impossible to change if state transportation experts and engineers found new ways to save money or improve the system.

Fix Our Damn Roads is the equivalent of letting your kids handle the family finances. It’s bad for the kids and bad for everyone. Vote no.

Prop 110 was created by a consortium of businesses and consumer organizations to raise badly needed cash for roads without bankrupting public schools or forcing college students and their parents to fund roads through massive tuition hikes. It enjoys widespread support of chambers of commerce and elected officials across the state.

The measure would raise sales taxes 0.62 percent, adding about 6 cents in taxes on every $10 purchase, which would include billions of dollars in purchases made by tourists.

The plan lets elected officials, through appointed state officials and experts, to decide which projects are best for all of Colorado, and which make sense to build first, and when. The plan also realizes that one of the best way to improve roads is to keep so many cars off of them. Let’s Go Colorado would let state officials find ways to use mass transit, bikes and other commuting strategies get people where they need to go, saving money and promoting cleaner air.

Most important, Prop 110 immediately raises the cash Colorado needs to implement badly needed fixes and improvements without causing problems somewhere else in the state.

Prop 110 is fair, it’s sensible and it’s the right way to get Colorado moving.