Referendum C wins big

Coordinating measure D narrowly failing late Tuesday

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Routt County people who advocated on both sides of the debate about referendums C and D were absorbing the implications of a possible split vote on the two measures by 11 p.m. Tuesday. Statewide totals showed Referendum C leading by a healthy percentage, and Referendum D was narrowly behind.

With 89 percent of the expected vote counted statewide, 522,521 voters, or 52 percent, had approved C, compared with 479,046, or 48 percent, who voted against it.

Referendum D, would allow the state to borrow as much as $2.1 billion for roads, school maintenance, pensions and other projects. That issue was too close to call late Tuesday, with 503,288 voting against the plan, and 495,718 voting for it.

The passage of Referendum C would allow the state to retain $3.7 billion of TABOR funds. However, the defeat of Referendum D would deny state government the opportunity to use a portion of those TABOR funds to back an additional $2.1 billion of bonded indebtedness to carry out highway and school projects, among others.

"Maybe they're thinking they don't want to put themselves in debt," Bill Haight said about voters who cast ballots for C and against D.

Haight, a former Routt County Republican chairman and county commissioner, came out in favor of C and D in midsummer.

Another Republican, Paul Epley, has been outspoken in his opposition to C and D. However, he agreed that a rejection of D would signify debt avoidance on the part of voters.

"Colorado has always had a tradition that you pay as you go," Epley said. "I felt from the beginning that, for D to win, C would have to pass by an overwhelming margin."

Epley grated against the possibility C might prevail.

"This is the most deceitful campaign ever," he said. "And Routt County won't see any of the money. The Legislature will give the money to districts where Democrats won by slim margins in the last election. That's where all that pork is going."

Haight hoped both C and D would end up passing when all of the votes had been counted. He disagreed that Northwest Colorado wouldn't see the funds if C passes. Instead, he said, rural areas would take the biggest fiscal hits in the future, if C fails.

"We need to back transportation," he said. "I think the state has to have it. The transportation committee has always been extremely fair about funding road projects around the state. We got rid of all that parochialism 10 years ago, and we haven't seen it come back."

Jennifer Schubert-Akin, chairwoman of the Routt County Republicans, preferred to turn her gaze to the future.

"Regardless of the outcome, the people have spoken, and we're moving forward," she said. "We've had a healthy, energetic exchange of differing opinions, and we're going to work to get Republicans elected next year. What's happened has happened."

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