Conservative groups float gas tax cut in response to Colorado lawmakers’ proposed fee hike

    BRIEF

    (Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

    As Colorado lawmakers consider a plan to raise fees on gasoline sales to fund transportation and infrastructure projects, two conservative political groups on Monday threatened to back a ballot initiative to cut the state’s gas tax in response.

    Americans for Prosperity Colorado and Colorado Rising State Action said in a press release that they’re prepared to put the gas tax cut on the 2022 ballot “should lawmakers choose to pass the proposed tax increase during the 2021 legislative session.”

    “If our lawmakers continue this path to subvert the will of the voters that elected them, we fully intend to hold them accountable,” AFP Colorado state director Jesse Mallory said in a statement. “Voters asked for a voice on all tax and fee increases, and we’re going to give it to them.”

    A new per-gallon fee on gasoline sales — starting at 2 cents next year and rising to 8 cents by 2028 — is one of a range of new revenue-raising measures included in a draft “Legislative Proposal on State Transportation Funding” released by members of the Colorado General Assembly last month. Lawmakers have not yet introduced the legislation.

    As 501(c)(4), “dark money” nonprofits, AFP and Colorado Rising State Action are not required to disclose their donors. AFP, which operates a national network of advocacy organizations in at least 38 states, was founded in 2004 by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

    The proposed gas tax cut is only one of a range of tax-cutting ballot measures being backed by conservative groups. Colorado Rising State Action has proposed a 2021 ballot initiative to cut property taxes statewide, which a state fiscal analysis estimates would result in a total revenue loss of over $1 billion for Colorado school districts and local governments. Conservative activist Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute has also filed an initiative seeking to lower the state’s income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.4%, just one year after Colorado voters approved a reduction of the rate to 4.55% from 4.63%.