Rumors are swirling around the Capitol that corporate lobbyists are lining up in opposition to SB17-188, the repeal of the state income tax credit for “innovative vehicles.” It isn’t surprising. Whenever their place at the taxpayer trough is threatened, they squeal like a ____ (fill in the blank).
We call SB17-188 “repeal and repair” because instead of giving millions of dollars annually to rich guys in the Denver metro area and corporations, the money will go the Highway Users Trust Fund (HUTF) to be used for roads and bridges.
What are “innovative vehicles”? They include electric cars and trucks as well as some natural gas vehicles, which can net individual buyers and corporations a taxpayer-funded tax credit anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per vehicle depending on the vehicle.
Everyone – the legislature, the Governor, special interests, and anyone who drives on Colorado roadways – knows that our roads need work. The Colorado Department of Transportation says the state needs $9 billion for transportation projects. The Governor says there is no money available in the state budget. Special interest groups want to increase taxes. We say not another dime until legislators stop forcing taxpayers to pay for corporate welfare including rich guys’ cars and corporate fleet vehicles.
Because “repeal and repair” has a TABOR implication, it’s simply a referred measure. In other words, even if this bill passes, it still must go to a vote of the people. Yes! You and I get to decide if we want this money to go to rich guys and corporate welfare or to our roads.
Guess who doesn’t want this bill to see the light of day, let alone the floor of the State Senate? Some of the largest lobbying trade associations and corporations want SB 188 killed in committee. Why? According to our sources, it’s because they don’t want to pay for a campaign to oppose it, and they know they’re likely to lose. They prefer to increase your taxes rather than reduce their corporate welfare.
One in particular is the lobbying behemoth Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI), which took up the bill for consideration today. Needless to say, CACI is opposing. Yet CACI is one of the special interest groups demanding lawmakers fix our roads but only through new taxes, not by reducing corporate welfare or ending giveaways to wealthy front range residents.
According to the fiscal note, between 2017 to 2022 the state could have an additional $21.5 million for roads and bridges and reduce expenditures within the Department of Revenue or give that money to rich guys and corporate fleets and have taxpayers pony up more money for transportation.
It’s time these “innovative” vehicles competed in a real market place and not on the backs of Colorado taxpayers. If they are priced correctly, then people and corporations will buy them. That’s how markets work. It’s fiscally irresponsible and morally reprehensible to subsidize the driving habits of rich people and corporations while Colorado’s working families pick up the tab.
Repeal and repair will be heard in committee on Tuesday, February 28, in Senate Finance at 2 pm in SCR 357. The Independence Institute will be there with Senator Vicki Marble when she presents it.
$21.5 million won’t solve all of our transportation funding problems, but it’s a small step in the right direction. Before asking hardworking Coloradans for more money, elected officials need to make sure they’ve found all savings in the current budget. Otherwise, they’ll likely face defeat at the ballot box in 2017.
We’d like to thank the courageous lawmakers who joined Sen. Marble in sponsoring SB 188 including Senators Randy Baumgardner, John Cooke, Kevin Lundberg, Tim Neville, Jerry Sonnenberg, and Majority Leader Chris Holbert who signed on as co-sponsors.