How would Stapleton pay for road and bridge upgrades?

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

During an interview on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado yesterday, Colorado State  Treasurer Walker Stapleton came out in support of a lawsuit alleging that the 2009 FASTER law, which raised Colorado vehicle registration fees to pay for road and bridge upgrades, is unconstitutional.

Here’s the key exchange on the radio show:

WALKER STAPLETON:  Well, you know, my friend Rich Sokel is at the tip of the spear, there. And I think it’s a great thing.  And I hope they prevail because, you know, the FASTER tax was one of many taxes and fees that was passed without our input as voters in Colorado.  And it was passed and given cover by a liberal activist Supreme Court.  And so I hope that it gets some traction, because these fees need to be called what they are, and that’s tax increases.

Host: Absolutely.  So I’m going to wish them luck on that and we’re going to do everything we can to support those guys and their efforts.  Walker Stapleton, Colorado state—

STAPLETON:  Thank you, guys!  I appreciate you!

HOST: We appreciate you and everything you’re doing and you know you’ve got a friendly voice here, so use us whenever we can and we’ll help you fight this battle.  That’s Walker Stapleton, Colorado State Treasurer.

Listen to Walker Stapleton on KLZ 6-7-12

It’s painful to hear a public official, who claims to be the standard bearer for fiscal responsibility, support striking down the FASTER law without explaining how he’d fund road and bridge repair in the state. And this is of course not the first time Republicans have exhibited this problem.

So, please, all you entertaining people over at KLZ, put this question to Stapleton when you have him back on Grassroots Radio Colorado: Does he 1) want to fix Colorado’s crumbling roads and bridges, and, if so 2) how he does he propose to pay for it ($300 million in bonds issued and $400 million to be issued in 2017).

20 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. jaytee says:

    The obvious answer is he wouldn’t pay for roads and bridges. He’d put it to a ballot vote and it would be voted down. His fiscal conservativism doesn’t include room for public expenditures of that magnitude on infrastructure. The answer is to privatize those roads and bridges! Because that works so well (for the 10 guys running the road and bridge companies).  

    • Libertad says:

      Both you and Pols here take the usual twisted tactic of trying to spin away from the issue.

      The issue friends is the legality of FASTER. Agree with it or not the rule of law must be upheld. You believe this was constructed wihin the law, Stapleton and his followers believe it does not.

      So let’s stick to this issue at hand versus your typical diversionary tactics.

      • droll says:

        The follow up questions, if it’s asked for some reason, should be how he defines “fee” and where he considers any nexus from fee to service to be present in any case.

        Of course this takes us back to Ralphie’s point. And is Stapleton even an attorney? I thought I remembered him as having a real estate background, or something (not that the two are mutually exclusive).

        I do have one correction. This isn’t a CoPols diary, it’s Jason’s.

        Now I have to take a shower. No offense, obviously.

  2. Ralphie says:

    While I enjoy your articles, Jason, there is absolutely nothing in Walker Stapleton’s job description that requires him to worry about how to pay for roads and bridges.

    Stapleton is off the reservation.  This is none of his fucking business, period.

  3. to come up with a way to pay for road and bridge upgrades.

    I’m sure Democrats and/or liberals could come up with all kinds of “worthwhile” projects to spend tax dollars, if TABOR wasn’t so inconvenient for them!  But that is precisely why the public put that safeguard in place.

    It is the responsibility of the General Assembly to place the issue on the ballot and make the case for it to the voters.(Isn’t that how it went down with Referendum C?)  People can see the disrepair some roads and specific bridges are in.  I really don’t think it would be that hard a sell.

    The problem with the FASTER law was that it was disguised to be a fee, so the public couldn’t weigh in on it.  This is why a ruling that TABOR is unconstitutional will stampede voters to the GOP in many state legislative races.

    • Tom says:

      but his job is to safeguard the state’s finances and make sure the bills get paid. Eliminating a revenue stream dedicated to paying bonds on committed projects might make his job pretty sticky. Most Republicans don’t dig the idea of an unfunded mandate.

      As far as fees are concerned, when Owens was calling the shots it was absolutely in the playbook to supplement falling tax revenues with fees in order to avoid conflicts with TABOR.  If FASTER is ruled to be unconstitutional, there are a lot of funding mechanisms across the state that will have to be looked at in everything from higher ed to public health.

  4. Joe ColoradoJoe Colorado says:

    …is now of course a majority Republican Supreme Court due to Hick’s inexplicable Boatright appointment.  We’ll see how activist the court gets, perhaps disregarding clear Colorado precedent that usage fees are NOT taxes triggering TABOR.  A contrary holding would eviscerate all government, which of course is the right-wing nut job’s wet dream.

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      you should be praising Jason  

    • ajb says:

      Again, Jason Dwyer, do any of the reporters Democrats take your advice on what they “should” do?  

      • dwyer says:

        On second thought, your question is legitimate.  No, as far as I can tell, none of the Democratic higher ups feel the need to respond to the republicans or to present a consistent message or to seek a “platform” that allows them to “broadcast” their message to a wider audience.

        But, I am a democrat.  I feel I have an absolute obligation to continue to press for better communication.  For two years, many of us at the “grunt level” have expressed our concern at caucuses, with OFA and with emails and in discussions….without much luck.  I do not have money, I am old, I am not gay, I am not in a position to even seek a low level party position.  The only energy I see in the democratic party is for the gay agenda…I hasten to add I certainly support that….and preserving women’s rights…support that too……but that is not enough to win elections.

        There is much apathy in the democratic party, and that contributed to the loss in 2010.  I believe that the party has gotten much more “top down” and there is little concern for rank and file dems…..So I persist.

        As for Jason, I have no idea what he is doing with his blogs.  If he is a media critic, then using the format of media matters would be legitimate…pointing out factual errors.  If he is reporting on the information from right wing radio, then he fails to explain that these are conservative networks with conservative perspective and an agenda that is being promoted.

        To tell them that they “should” do anything, doesn’t make any sense.

        I would like to see more informative reporting from him. For example, I would like to know the radio schedules for the various talk outlets and their ratings and whether the ratings are going up or down.

        I think that would be good information that I would assume Jason could provide.

        Finally, my sense is that right wing radio is doing just fine, energizing a niche republican demographic that will be important in the 2012 election.  As for the democratic party? Not so much.

  5. Albert J. Nock says:

    Salzman ask, “How would Stapleton pay for roads and bridges?”  

    I cannot speak of Walker, but I will.

    First, go through every current revenue stream with fine tooth comb. Make sure it is all accounted for.  Make sure none of it is being diverted to other governments.

    Second, review all expenditures with fine tooth comb, make sure Davis Bacon and other thievery is not sucking it all up.

    Third, ask the voter to approve modest per gallon fuel tax increase or crazily, per dollar spent on fuel, tax.  Line item it on receipt, rather than hide it in the pump.

    This is how honest men conduct government.

    If 51% of the Colorado voting population does not approve fuel tax increase, then they get the roads they deserve. Do you trust the voter? If not, then how do you trust them enough to elect the correct representatives?

    Seems as though everyone wants Democracy until they don’t.

    An elected representative with no Constitution is nothing more than an elected dictator.

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