The Post edi­to­rial:

Gov. John Hick­en­looper’s out­line for ac­tion and funds will ul­ti­mately be up to vot­ers.

The Denver Post - - NEWS -

There was al­most a plain­tive tone to Gov. John Hick­en­looper’s State of the State speech Thurs­day as he sought to ca­jole mem­bers of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly into com­ing to­gether to find new rev­enue for trans­porta­tion and education.

Skep­ti­cal political ob­servers may have al­ready con­cluded that the leg­is­la­ture will be dead­locked on th­ese is­sues— see our edi­to­rial of just last week, for ex­am­ple— but the gov­er­nor isn’t rais­ing the white flag just yet.

And he laid out the stakes in stark terms.

“Travel on our high­ways has in­creased 42 per­cent in the last 20 years. But the ca­pac­ity of our high­way sys­tem has only grown 2 per­cent. Even an English ma­jor like me can do that math,” he said, adding, “It seems we’ve dis­cov­ered the for­mula for con­ges­tion.”

And that’s es­pe­cially true when you con­sider Colorado is likely to add 2 mil­lion res­i­dents in the next 20 years.

The gov­er­nor ac­tu­ally re­ceived a sus­tained ova­tion when he de­clared, “Let’s find a way to per­ma­nently put new money into roads so we can truly solve Colorado’s trans­porta­tion prob­lems.” But of course the ques­tion is: What source of money is avail­able— not only for roads but for the K- 12 schools that re­main below fund­ing lev­els reached prior to the Great Re­ces­sion?

Hick­en­looper reaf­firmed his sup­port for con­vert­ing $ 750 mil­lion in “hos­pi­tal provider fees” to an en­ter­prise fund so the state can keep more of the taxes it al­ready col­lects rather than is­sue re­funds un­der the Tax­payer’s Bill of Rights. “If we make this fix,” he de­clared, “the TA­BOR limit won’t be one penny higher than what vot­ers gave us in Ref­er­en­dum C.”

He is cor­rect. The Ref C cap, which elim­i­nated the orig­i­nal “ratchet- down” ef­fect of TA­BOR and pegged spend­ing to in­fla­tion plus pop­u­la­tion growth, won’t be af­fected— which is one rea­son we sup­port the con­ver­sion, too.

Ref C was ap­proved by vot­ers in 2005, be­fore the hos­pi­tal fee was even en­acted. And that fee should not have been put in the state gen­eral fund in the first place.

Hick­en­looper made a strong case for ac­tion, but whether it moved any­one re­mains to be seen. We still sus­pect vot­ers will have to make the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion on find­ing the elu­sive rev­enue source that can al­le­vi­ate the prob­lems the gov­er­nor de­scribed.

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