West Slope group makes U-turn on tax proposal
September 8, 2008
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” An influential western Colorado lobbying group has done an about-face and is opposing a plan to invest oil and gas tax revenue for road and bridge projects.
Club 20, which represents 22 counties on the West Slope, voted Saturday to oppose the measure that will appear as Amendment 52 on the November statewide ballot. The group’s board made the decision after a debate on the plan during the group’s fall conference.
Before the debate, board members said they supported the proposal to divert severance tax revenue to roads.
Club 20 Executive Director Reeves Brown said arguments that the measure focuses only on Interstate 70 and would place another fiscal constraint in the state Constitution helped change board members’ minds.
A state analysis said Amendment 52 would add some $225 million to transportation improvements over four years, but would siphon off funds for water-improvement projects and other programs.
Jim Lochhead, an attorney and the former director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, spoke against the amendment during the debate. “You’re hurting one thing to help another,” he said.
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Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, one of the measure’s chief proponents, disagreed.
“It’s right for Colorado, because it re-prioritizes existing revenues without tolls and without a tax increase,” McNulty said of the amendment.