Thursday, March 5, 2009

Arveschoug-Bird Limit Repeal May Hit House Roadblock

The controversial bill that would repeal Colorado's annual limit on general fund growth may hit a roadblock in the House.

According to a report in today's Denver Post, House Transportation Committee chair Liane "Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, is concerned about completely stripping away a guaranteed source of funds for transportation. The article, by the Post's Tim Hoover, also says that Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, is also unsure whether to support SB 228 in its current form. Rice was the House sponsor of the so-called FASTER bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter Monday.

FASTER would raise motor vehicle registration fees by an average of $41 per person over the next three years, raising more than $200 million per year for transportation improvements and repair statewide.

The Post report also says the Denver Chamber of Commerce has come out against SB 228, which gained preliminary l Senate approval earlier this week after a 10-hour debate that extended into the early hours of the morning.

Under current law, which was enacted in 1991 when the General Assembly was under GOP control, any revenues exceeding a six percent growth in the general fund are routed to transportation and capital construction projects.

The state's annual general fund growth limit, which is named for its sponsoring legislators, had been long thought to be constitutional in nature. But an opinion by former state supreme court justice Jean Dubofsky earlier this year that indicated the Arveschoug-Bird law merely allocates revenues, and does not limit total state spending, opened the door to a debate about changing or repealing the limit.