Amendment 58 a topic of debate at Glenwood Springs Issues and Answers Forum |

Amendment 58 a topic of debate at Glenwood Springs Issues and Answers Forum

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Senate District 8 battle between Republican Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, and Steamboat Springs Democrat Ken Brenner came to a head at the 23rd annual Questions and Answers Forum held by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort association at the Glenwood Springs City Council chamber Tuesday night.

Both men are running to replace Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, who is term-limited and not running for re-election. They didn’t see eye to eye on any of the questions from local media on issues involving water rights, how to increase funding for additional staffing for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), but it was the issue of Amendment 58 on this year’s ballot that really heated the conversation.

“I do not support it. It is poorly written,” White said. “These dollars are being allocated for scholarships, and these are not the dollars that universities need.”

However, Brenner said he did support Amendment 58 because the state’s current severance tax is too low.

“The energy industry pays only a 1.8 percent severance tax in Colorado,” Brenner said. “Wyoming pays 11.2 percent, and New Mexico pays 9.4 percent.”

Brenner said that he felt it was important to prioritize gains made on taxed dollars through government to be returned directly to the communities that are impacted. White said that he agreed, but that 58 does not do that.

“I would like to kill Amendment 58, and let’s sit down with the oil and gas industry and take next year while we get this new regulatory environment fund through their belts, and see what it’s going to cost them to do business,” White said. “I think they will be willing to do that because the companies want to see the money go back into the counties they are impacting because it is where they are producing.”

Senate District 8 covers most of Eagle County, along with Jackson, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties.

House District 57 contenders Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, and Todd Hagenbuch, D-Phippsburg, showed up to talk to community members about their views.

While Baumgardner opposed Amendment 58 as “just another tax,” Hagenbuch said that he was undecided on the issue at the moment.

“I’ve struggled for what I’m going to vote on 58,” Hagenbuch said. “It’s imperfect legislation, but I’ve got no problem asking the energy companies to pay their fair share.”

One of the most unnoticed races on this year’s ballot is the State School Board of Education race between Marcia Neal, R-Mesa County, and Jill Brake, D-Pueblo. But both candidates showed up Tuesday night.

“I think I’m the right choice for the state board of education,” Brake said. “This position requires a person with a passion and commitment to perform for six years with no pay.”

She repeated her slogan, “Brake for kids’ education,” several times over the 20-minute debate.

And the ladies didn’t disagree on many of the issues brought up, but they did have different ideas on what the most important issue the state board faces. Neal said that more action and less talk needs to happen in education, while Brake touted that aligning the content from kindergarten through secondary education was the most important issue.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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