State Sen. Jack Taylor said Wednesday morning he will continue to work in the wake of Amendment 33's overwhelming defeat to find a permanent funding source for statewide marketing of tourism.
"Naturally, I'm disappointed with the defeat of 33," the Steamboat Springs Republican said. "My biggest disappointment was the misinformation -- it's sad to realize in this day and age that decisions at the polls can be based on misinformation."
Proponents and opponents of Amendment 33 spent more than $7 million to convince voters of their points of view. The measure would have raised up to $25 million annually for tourism promotion and a similar amount for open space.
"My interest is to help the local and state economies through tourism because long-term cash flow projections are dismal," Taylor said. "Revitalizing tourism is the quickest and cleanest way to accomplish that."
Voters opposed Amendment 33 by a 4-to-1 margin. Statewide, Amendment 33 received 19 percent of the votes. Locally, the vote was closer; the measure was defeated 3,005 to 1,897.
Taylor was more buoyant about the defeat of Referendum A, which would have allowed the state to bond for up to $2 billion in unspecified water projects, with the potential for an ultimate payout of $4 billion. Taylor fought the referendum, in part because he saw it as a threat to Western Slope water.
Taylor said he was surprised and encouraged by the referendum's margin of defeat on the Front Range. He interprets the 67 percent of voters who were opposed to Referendum A as a sign that people in Colorado's urban centers value preserving a portion of Western Slope water in its basin of origin.
"That just astounded me," Taylor said. "I'm really gratified that Front Range people are beginning to realize we need to protect West Slope water. These valleys aren't going to stay green without it."
Taylor said he has advocated for more than a decade that Colorado begin to add water storage capacity on smaller streams off the main stem rivers such as the Colorado and Yampa. He would insist that a portion of any new storage be reserved for Western Slope uses.
Taylor said many individuals and organizations representing a high level of bipartisanship worked to defeat Referendum A, which Gov. Bill Owens strongly favored.
Taylor said in the coming legislative session he intends to be the Senate sponsor of a new bill that would establish tools to achieve "basin of origin protection" for water. He expects Democratic state representative John Salazar to carry the bill in the House.
Taylor said that, at some point, he and fellow legislators will go to voters to seek help with the financial constraints that face them in approving a budget every year. The fiscal limitations of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, together with Amendment 23, which requires the Legislature to fund public education according to a set formula, leave little wiggle room for legislators trying to meet the state's funding needs, Taylor said.
"You have to realize that more than 90 percent of the budget we can't touch because of mandates," Taylor said. "That leaves 6 to 10 percent of the budget" that legislators can allocate to fund programs.