Referendums C, D advocated

State, local leaders back ballot questions to relax TABOR

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A team of bipartisan political and business leaders will come to Steamboat Springs on Thursday to urge voters to relax the Taxpayers Bill of Rights to invest in highways, education and health care.

Denver Chamber President Joe Blake, Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, and state Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, will meet with the public from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Hall. They will discuss the implications of referendums C and D, which will be on the November ballot.

"This statewide campaign is a bipartisan effort," said Bill Haight, former chairman of the Routt County Republican Party. "Not only is Gov. Bill Owens a strong supporter, but our state senator, Jack Taylor, and state representative, Al White, are solidly behind this reform of TABOR. This local bipartisan effort is also shown by the support of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association."

Not everyone in Colorado politics is in favor of the referendums. House minority leader Rep. Joe Stengel of Littleton on Tuesday called referendums C and D "the largest state government spending spree in history."

The two referendums, working in tandem, would call a five-year timeout from TABOR, freeing an estimated $3.1 billion in surplus monies, and allow the state to bond for as much as $1.56 billion in capital improvements.

The Legislature passed a pair of enabling bills in the last session, specifying how the money would be spent. Stengel criticized the two referendums this week for lacking the specificity to meet the requirements that allow governments to "de-Bruce," or seek voter approval for some relief from the constraints of TABOR.

With former Routt County Democratic Chairman Ben Beall joining Haight as co-chairmen of "Routt County Votes Yes on C & D," the referendums have the support of two former county commissioners.

Haight, a former state transportation commissioner, said passage of the referendums would restore money cut from highway and transit budgets under TABOR limitations.

"With the passage of C and D, a specific list of statewide construction projects will be able to be funded," Haight said. "These projects will include urban and rural projects."

Beall said education in Colo--rado is not receiving the funding it needs for the state to remain competitive in the global economy.

"Passage of C and D will repair our poor school district buildings and offer tuition assistance for our college students," he said.

Stengel thinks TABOR is doing what it was meant to do, and referendums C and D will inappropriately hold the state budget harmless from economic downturns.

"Never mind that you and I do whatever we have to do to live within our means," he said.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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