STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
COMMITTEE ON JOINT TRANSPORTATION
|Time:||01:36 PM to 03:57 PM|
|This Meeting was called to order by|
|This Report was prepared by|
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Bills Addressed: ||Action Taken:|
|Briefing by the Joint Budget Committee|
Briefing by the Department of Transportation
Briefing by the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel
|Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only|
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
01:37 PM -- Briefing by the Joint Budget Committee
The chair called the joint meeting to order.
Representative Marostica, representing the Joint Budget Committee, introduced the members of the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) present at the hearing. Representative Marostica explained that the JBC has conducted detailed staff briefings on the FY 2008-09 budget for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Representative Marostica stated that CDOT does not receive general funds. Rather, cash, reappropriated, and federal funds support CDOT. However, all three of these sources are declining. Representative Marostica further explained the budget proposal, supplemental information on CDOT's responsibilities, and various projects planned and underway. Representative Marostica discussed the issue of hiring freezes and the number of positions affected (Attachment A).
Senator Renfroe asked about construction maintenance figures reflected in Attachment A. Representative Marostica and Senator Tapia recommended that such questions be directed to CDOT during the later part of the agenda.
Representative McFadyen asked for an estimated loss of Highway Users Tax Fund revenues for the state in the coming year. Representative Marostica replied that the figure is approximately $100 million. He further stated that federal stimulus funds are unable to be factored into the budget due to uncertainty surrounding the stimulus package. Further discussions ensued regarding revenues.
01:57 PM -- Representative Marostica proceeded to discuss the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Representative Marostica stated that the PUC brought forward one spending issue to the JBC. There were no questions from committee members regarding the PUC.
01:59 PM -- Representative Marostica proceeded to discuss the Governor's Energy Office (GEO). Representative Marostica stated that the GEO made a request for FY 2010-11 for approximately $1.3 million in funds. Representative McFadyen asked a clarifying question regarding grant funding for the GEO.
02:01 PM -- Representative McFadyen thanked the JBC members for their work and presentation.
02:04 PM -- Briefing by the Department of Transportation
Mr. Bill Kauffman, representing the Colorado Transportation Commission, introduced Commission members, Executive Director Russell George, and staff joining him at the hearing. Mr. Russell George, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), discussed a slide presentation to the committee members (Attachment B). Ms. Heather Copp, representing CDOT, discussed revenue sources and expenditure categories. Ms. Copp explained federal sources impacting the state transportation budget. She further stated that maintenance of existing infrastructure has risen in priority due to budget constraints.
02:12 PM -- Representative Vaad asked Ms. Copp to clarify revenue sources specifically those termed "legislatively appropriated." Representated Green asked why the budget is the same despite the loss of full time employees. Ms. Copp responded that those positions were not lost, but were vacancies that were not filled. Ms. Copp further described revenue sources both projected and to date. The "gas tax" is based upon consumption; therefore reductions of fuel purchases result in fewer tax revenues. Ms. Copp further discussed the federal stimulus bill and its potential benefit to the CDOT budget.
02:21 PM -- Representative Vaad asked clarifying questions on the federal stimulus and expressed his apprehensions regarding federal stimulus funds being contingent on projects already contracted. Ms. Copp discussed federal transportation funding procedures. Representative Gibbs asked what local communities can do for transportation projects ready to commence yet not currently included. Ms. Copp suggested that the best procedure is to communicate with the metropolitan planning organizations. Senator Copp asked if Congress has a definition for jobs visible to the general public pertaining to projects prepared for the stimulus bill. Senator Copp also asked for an example of bridge projects in need of repair. Panel members responded with bridge examples and estimated costs, including $800 million to rehabilitate the Interstate 70 Viaduct. Further discussions ensued on revenues and projects related to the federal stimulus bill.
02:34 PM -- Representative Looper asked for the definitions of the terms structually deficient and functionally obsolete, as well as an explanation as to the current number of bridges classified under these terms. Mr. Mark Leonard, representing the CDOT Bridge Division, explained the definition of both terms in relation to bridge sufficiency and discussed the quantity of bridges under these classifications. Representative Looper further asked if CDOT has rehabilitation plans for all deficient bridges and if potential federal stimulus dollars would benefit such rehabilitation projects. Representative Looper also asked for clarification on the total number of bridges and requested a list of structurally deficient bridges according to district. Executive Director George responded that the list would be provided to the committee members. Representative McFadyen also expressed the priority of bridge safety.
02:40 PM -- Mr. Tony DeVito, representing CDOT Region One, discussed slides pertaining to surface treatment and pavement management. Mr. DeVito also discussed bridge conditions and rating systems, as well as maintenance responses. He provided further information on funding for bridge maintenance and the increasing problem of bridges receiving poor ratings. Mr. DeVito also discussed snow and ice historical expenditures in which expenditures consistently surpass budgeted amounts.
02:46 PM -- Mr. George discussed CDOT engineering contracts and explained that projects are completed through industry partnerships. In recent years, spending on engineering contracts have decreased substantially. Mr. George explained trends in construction spending and offered a summary of transportation related employment.
02:56 PM -- Mr. George described current legislative initiatives expected during the current session and asked the committee for questions.
03:00 PM -- Senator Romer asked if CDOT knows of the capacity of Colorado contractors to handle projects according to dollars spent. Senator Romer also asked what amount of spending reaches a point in which CDOT looks to contractors outside the state. Mr. George stated that there is high capacity in the private sector. However, procurement rules do not permit CDOT to screen based upon Colorado and out-of-state locations.
03:09 PM -- Senator Copp asked how federal stimulus dollars would be distributed. Mr. George responded that disbursement is unknown at this time, as are intended recipients. However, Mr. George predicted that the funds will be delivered in the same manner as federal transportation appropriation dollars distributed through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act.
03:18 PM -- Briefing by the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Finance and Implementation
Mr. Mark Mehalko, representing the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Finance and Implementation (Blue Ribbon Panel) described the history of the panel and its mission. Mr. Mehalko explained current funding shortfalls, federal funding, and existing infrastructure challenges. He also stated that while a federal stimulus would be welcome, it is not a lasting solution to transportation financing problems. Copies of slide handouts were distributed to the committee members (Attachment C).
03:23 PM -- Mr. Doug Aden, representing the Blue Ribbon Panel, discussed guiding principles followed by the panel. Mr. Aden also discussed revenue options examined by the Blue Ribbon Panel, such as public private partnerships, congestion pricing, tolling, and various user fees.
03:33 PM -- Treasurer Cary Kennedy, representing the Blue Ribbon Panel, discussed current legislative proposals related to transportation financing. Treasurer Kennedy stated that the FASTER proposal issued by the Governor is a useful measure to incorporate private and public partnerships and support alternative modes on congested corridors. However, the FASTER proposal does not go as far as the Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations. Treasurer Kennedy stated that FASTER is a needed step.
03:38 PM -- Representative McNulty stated his agreement that a new paradigm of transportation funding is needed. Representative McNulty asked questions of user-based financing for transportation. Treasurer Kennedy responded that a user-pays system of financing for roads has been the historical pattern for transportation financing. Representative McNulty discussed the importance of transportation infrastructure, stating its priority is among that of education, public safety, and higher education. Representative McNulty further stated that the benefits of transportation networks are universally beneficial and, thus, should be supported broadly and alongside other high priorities.
03:45 PM -- Representative Fischer asked for further elaboration on the five Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations. Treasurer Kennedy explained each of the panel recommendations.
03:50 PM -- Representative King asked if the Blue Ribbon Panel prioritized any user fees as more effective than others. Mr. Aden and Treasurer Kennedy responded to the question, stating that an extensive list of potential fees were examined and all information is contained in the Blue Ribbon Panel report.
03:52 PM -- Senator Romer expressed that he was aware that general fund dollars may support transportation funding. Senator Romer further stated his support for measures that stimulate job growth and economic development. He further stated his support for innovative approaches such as public private partnerships to improve transportation infrastructure. Representative McNulty expressed his agreement and view that the state has more untapped options before charging user fees.
The committee adjourned.