Transportation Funding Efforts Bolstered by Introduction of State Budget; Equal Pay Makes Way to Senate
The NCLA and Fix North I-25 Business Alliance were bolstered this last week with the introduction of the state budget that included a guarantee of $158M for transportation for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The funding was a significant step in driving towards resolution of the funding and finance debate the NCLA and Fix North I-25 prompted last April and continued this legislative session.
NCLA and Fix North I-25 have been advocating through Fix Colorado Roads, the statewide organization established under Fix North I-25, for a permanent general fund funding mechanism for transportation to replace a temporary and volatile mechanism put in place in 2009, referred to as Senate Bill 228. The 228 mechanism has not delivered upon its promise of $1 Billion for transportation over 5 years making the mechanism fatally flawed. By securing a permanent and stable funding mechanism, the opportunity to leverage such funds through bonding exists. Bonding is an imperative to see North I-25 expanded to three lanes by 2025.
The House and Senate will consider the state budget over the course of the next two weeks and transportation funding will be a central point of debate.
House Democrats gave approval to the three equal pay bills last week, while Republicans argue there are already plenty of laws on the books aimed at ensuring women earn the same as their male counterparts. In passing their bill to require any company that bids on state contracts meet equal-pay standards, Democratic Reps. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Janet Buckner of Aurora said the state has to lead by example. The bill passed the House and is headed to the Republican-held Senate, where it’s likely headed for the graveyard of well-intended legislation.
Two additional Democrat sponsored equal pay bills have made their way through the House. House Bill 1156 would give every employee the right to discuss his or her wages without repercussions from employers. House Bill 1166, sponsored by Danielson and Rep. Joe Salazar from Thornton, would block employers from asking about salary history. HB 1166 passed committee on a bi-partisan vote but it, and HB 1156, are both anticipated to be defeated in the Senate.
The NCLA opposes all three measures on the grounds that existing laws and the market sufficiently protect employees.