Colorado governor increases transportation funding

Air Academy's Luke Byington, right, was congratulated by teammate Landon Brunk after Byington scored the first goal of Air Academy's 3-0 victory over Durango on Monday. Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE

DENVER (AP) Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter is asking state legislators for a 6 percent increase in transportation funding.

Ritter submitted the request to lawmakers Monday as part of his $1.03 billion transportation budget proposal for next year.

Ritter says the additional money comes from new fees on vehicle registrations, which are producing an estimated $161 million for bridge and roadway repair and safety work next year.

Democrats praised the increase in funding after years of underfunding for transportation projects. They credited Ritter's new fee program, called "FASTER," Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery.

"FASTER means shovels in the ground and an economic shot in the arm. The people of Colorado want us to make the tough decisions that lead to more jobs, a balanced budget and a strong economy. We're doing just that," said House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver.

The governor was required by state law to deliver his proposed state budget Monday. Instead he gave lawmakers a down payment with the budgets for transportation, agriculture and public health. The rest of the budget will be delivered later this week as lawmakers prepare for budget hearings next week.

Lawmakers said the delay was needed because their budget analysts needed more time deal with the latest round of budget cuts for the current fiscal year, which were announced by the governor just last week.


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