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January 27, 2015 11:34 AM UTC

Neville Nutters: Repeal FASTER Late Fees, Because Freedom

  • by: Colorado Pols
Bridge repair is important.
Bridge repair is important.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports on this year's attempt to repeal part of the road and bridge construction funding stream created in 2009 via increased vehicle registration fees known as FASTER, a perennial target of the "Tea Party" faction of General Assembly Republicans:

“It is one of the most egregious fees,” said Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton. “A fee is supposed to be a charge to cover the cost of handling something. There really is no cost to the government here.”

He and his son, rookie Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, are sponsoring Senate Bill 18 to repeal the vehicle registration late fee, which starts at $25 a month and is capped at $100. It’s the first bill from the father-son legislative team…

Because FASTER was passed by the General Assembly instead of a statewide vote, and has the net effect of increasing revenue available to fund Colorado transportation projects, conservative Republicans seethe annually about the program as a violation of the spirit (and, as opponents have unsuccessfully argued in court, the letter) of the 1992 Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR). The problem, of course, is that TABOR has hobbled the ability of the state to properly fund transportation projects for decades, and the only way for the state to keep up with the growing burden of maintenance and new infrastructure is to resort to alternate sources like registration late fees. In recognition of the unreasonable restriction imposed by TABOR on the legislature's ability to tax and spend, the Colorado Supreme Court has made an important distinction between fees and taxes in other cases.

Sen. Tim Neville, Rep. Patrick Neville.
Sen. Tim Neville, Rep. Patrick Neville.

In previous years, despite the clamor on the right to repeal FASTER, Republicans in the legislature have been ultimately checked by their leadership. The last time Republicans had control of one chamber of the Colorado legislature in 2011, then House Speaker Frank McNulty's chief of staff was the former lobbyist for the Colorado Contractor's Association. The relentless drive to "shrink government" that serves as an article of faith for so many Republicans simply breaks down in the face of the reality that the state need these funds–and smart Republicans understand that to do nothing to address pressing needs like bridge repair would ultimately be disastrous for their own credibility.

Despite this, Bartels reports:

The bill likely will pass the Republican-controlled Senate, but its fate is unknown when it hits the Democratic-controlled House. Democrats have only a three-seat majority, and Rep. Neville is optimistic he can pull off a vote or two to help protect “the little guy.”

Missing from this bill is any plan to replace the millions of dollars it would cost the state, money that is being used right now to pay for something voters value above just about anything else–safe roads and bridges to drive on. On a matter of such basic importance, and with no alternative suggested, we have to wonder if there really isn't a single Republican in the Colorado Senate who will do the responsible thing here.

If not, it's something the voters should take careful note of.


13 thoughts on “Neville Nutters: Repeal FASTER Late Fees, Because Freedom

      1. Or we could just completely privatize and  let private companies take over every single road and bridge and make them all toll paid. Wait. Wouldn't that be a lot like paying really, really high taxes?

        1. Shh! As long as it falls by design most heavily upon the poor and middle class (just the way the GOP likes it), it's not a "tax" — it's a "user fee." They would NEVER "raise taxes"!

          1. And if  those private contractors make billions of those tax dollars go poof while electrocuting our soldiers in their showers, well that's the price of trickle down freedom.

      2. No, the Sacred Market will create a solution.  Crumbling roads and bridges?  Screw the DOT, a subsidiary for the E-470 parent entity will materialize.  (Hell, it can even exercise its own free speech and religion rights under the First Amendment.)  We don't need no damn gubmint to build roads and bridges. 

        1. Small-minded liberal solutions . . .

          . . . the answer is obvious:  Flying cars! Hoverboards!  Unicorns!  30-round magazines!  (and if you don't understand how that last one helps, your liberal mind is already flying the surrender-monkey flag . . .)

          . . . as soon as you get off the backs of our entrepreneurs, we'll have all the solutions that the Neville's need!

  1. The Nevilles, along with all of the Republicans in the legislature except perhaps Sen. Ellen Roberts, would rather see the public put in harms way by exposing motorists to crumbling infrastructure rather than solve a very practical problem.

    All of this outlines and exposes a critical weakness in today's Republican philosophy and policy preferences. The Party is controlled by people who absolutely refuse to acknowledge that government has any purpose or that revenues are required to solve real issues and problems (i.e. infrastructure). Because of that ideology, Republicans are never in favor of any public programs aside from police, fire and the military; but they can't admit to the electorate that they don't believe government should address anything and therefore they come up with subterfuges like this to distract attention from their bottom line. They assert they are protecting the taxpayer while simultaneously exposing the same people to catastrophic harm when a bridge or road fails. Instead of this nonsense, why don't they try and find a way to fix our roads and bridges through an alternative funding mechanism.

    Besides that, by refusing to fund infrastructure, or as in this case defund such projects, they are also directly harming some of those "job creators" known in this case as the free market contractors who bid on such projects.

    1. Once upon a time, Republicans thought that building and maintaining infrastructure was good for commerce and trade.  Remember, it was that Marxist-Leninist Dwight Eisenhower who signed the Interstate Highway Act into law.  Today, Ike would be branded a RINO and turned into a Democrat.

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