FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: William Perry Pendley
COLORADO’S BRIDGE TAX IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
February 11, 2013 – DENVER, CO. A Colorado group that defends the rights of taxpayers today urged a Colorado state court to grant it summary judgment in its lawsuit against two Colorado bodies and their officials for violation of the Colorado’s Constitution’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). In May 2012, the TABOR Foundation filed a lawsuit in Denver County Court alleging that its members should have been allowed to vote on $100 million in new taxes and $300 million in new government bonds imposed by the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, a government-owned business created by the Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery (FASTER) Act in 2009. The suit named the Bridge Enterprise, the Colorado Transportation Commission and its members, who oversee both the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Bridge Enterprise. In its filing today, the Foundation sought declaratory and injunctive relief and refund of all revenues collected, as well as payment of interest, pursuant to TABOR.
“The Bridge Enterprise violates TABOR because it does not function as a business given its power to levy a general tax and it got over ten percent of its revenue in CDOT grants,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF); MSLF represents the TABOR Foundation.
In 2009, the Colorado General Assembly passed Senate Bill 09-108, commonly known as FASTER, which provides for creation of the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, a government-owned business chartered to repair and to maintain bridges in Colorado. Previously, that work was performed by CDOT, which is overseen by an 11-member board; that board now also oversees the Bridge Enterprise. In addition, CDOT’s Executive Director is the Director of the Bridge Enterprise and CDOT’s CFO is CFO of the Bridge Enterprise.
FASTER imposes a “bridge safety surcharge,” based on weight, which is collected whenever a vehicle is registered anywhere in Colorado. Almost half of Colorado’s 64 counties will receive no direct benefit from the Bridge Enterprise; nonetheless, the residents of these 29 counties must pay the same bridge tax as residents of the counties allegedly benefitted by the tax...