George takes another crack at revenue sharing
Rep. Russell George, R-Rifle, is taking another crack at gettingthe Colorado Legislature to pass a bill that would allow revenuesharing among some rich and poor counties.George, who represents much of the Roaring Fork Valley, introduceda bill in the House last week that would allow a jurisdictionin a high-growth area to assist other jurisdictions that are feelingthe effects of the growth.In other words, “have” areas would assist “have-nots.”In a typical scenario under George’s plan, Pitkin County couldteam with Garfield County and the town of Silt to provide fundsto address a problem, such as inadequate day care.In House Bill 99-1328, George envisions either using $10 millionin state monies as the funding mechanism or a new sales tax inaffected mountain counties.For example, in order to help Silt with day care, Pitkin Countyvoters might be asked to approve an additional sales tax. If approved,the county would receive an equal credit against state sales taxes.The net effect would be the total same sales tax in Pitkin County,but a different allocation of the funds.”Why is it good for Pitkin County? Because our economies are interrelated,”George said in an interview earlier this year. “And so, more thanever, you have the Pitkin County taxpayers helping solve someof the regional problems that helped fuel the economy of PitkinCounty. The reason that Pitkin County does well is because a lotof people live in Silt and work in Aspen.”George has worked with the members of the Rural Resort Region- Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield, Lake and Summit counties – for yearsto find a way to provide state assistance for regional growthproblems which cross county lines.George has tried to get a similar bill passed before without success.He has one advantage this time around – he’s now Speaker of theHouse, the most powerful person in the Legislature.But even he doesn’t know if that’s enough to get the bill through.”There’s only so much political capital even the speaker can expend,”George said in an interview earlier this year. “It’s not as powerfulas it may seem.”George added that he could probably use his position to get thebill passed by the House, where he presides. “But then, I haveto get it through the Senate as well and I don’t have the sameposition over there,” he said.If logic prevails, George told The Aspen Times, his bill willpass this year. But his enthusiasm is tempered by political realism.”Most of my colleagues aren’t interested in regionalism,” Georgesaid.This could be the best chance, and maybe one of the last, forapproval of the bill. George is in his last two-year term in theHouse. He will be forced out by term limits.His bill, known as the “Local Government Growth Assistance Program,”was assigned to the House Finance and Appropriations committeesfor initial action. Committee hearings are yet to be scheduled.
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Telemedicine is a growing field that provides Roaring Fork Valley residents with access to specialists without driving to Denver or Grand Junction. A new midvalley business called Sentia is providing facilities to make telemedicine more accessible.