By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – A wide ranging and slightly bipartisan bill to transform Colorado’s transportation system and usher in a new era around electric cars, buses and trucks was introduced at the capitol on Monday. The biggest change most people will see is an increase in fees on a variety of everyday items to pay for the improvements to roads, bridges, tunnels and more.

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“I’ve heard from constituents for years transportation being a top priority or concern,” said state Sen. Kevin Priola, a Republican from Adams County. “There’s no free lunch at the end of the day and I think this proposal as it’s crafted it hits the mark. We need to lead on this issue for the state of Colorado.”

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The rest of the Republican caucus disagrees, arguing the new measure will hurt low-income Coloradans the most and calling for more stimulus and general fund money to be used.

Instead, the measure calls for fees to be placed on a variety of deliveries, from online retailers to pizza. Fees will also be added to gas.

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Democrats said during a Tuesday press conference this bill, around $5 billion in spending, is not a band aid, but a robust plan to take Colorado into the next generation. The emphasis is being placed on users of the road to pay their fair share. The largest fee could be on electric cars.

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“It addresses both the highway needs and also the multimodal and transit needs. Really significant investment it makes in transportation electrification which I think is essential in achieving our state climate and air quality goals,” said Will Toor, the Executive Director of the Colorado Energy Office.

More than $700 million is proposed to go toward charging stations, turning buses from gas to batteries and incentivizing more electric car purchases.

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“As they grow to much larger numbers you really do need to make sure that they are paying enough to maintain our road system. A decade from now when there’s a million electric vehicles on the road, they’re going to be paying the same amount as the average gasoline vehicle,” Toor said about a fee on Electric Vehicles to help pay for the plan.

Jeff Todd