Big names plug ballot issues |

Big names plug ballot issues

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Former state representative Gregg Rippy and former Glenwood Springs mayor Sam Skramstad took an opportunity to plug two ballot issues Friday. Both spoke at the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association “Biz-opoly,” a business showcase that ran all afternoon Friday at the community center. The showcase gave businesses a chance to advertise their services and scope out prospective employees.

Rippy spoke in favor of Referendums C and D.

“I’m here to tell you why a conservative supports C and D,” he said.

The measure, which is touted as a temporary fix for the state budget crisis, has bipartisan backing, he said.

C and D, passed, would allow the state to bypass the restrictions of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, which puts a ceiling on how much revenue state and local governments can take in annually.

Referendum D “would allow us to bond and spend the money now to do fixes (on roads and bridges) instead of waiting,” Rippy said.

Referendum C would bring in an estimated $3.6 billion in revenue to the state, and would effectively offset a potential $300-plus million short falls in the state budget next year.

Legislators backing the measure, including Governor Bill Owens, have identified 55 road projects around the state that would be funded under C and D, including three projects in the Roaring Fork Valley, Rippy said. About $147 million would be earmarked to upgrade some of the state’s poorest schools, and $50 would go to fix college buildings, he said.

Medicaid, which is suffering its own special fiscal crisis as demand for health care coverage mounts and less money is reimbursed to health care providers, would also benefit from C and D with a $1 billion infusion over the five years.

Another $1 billion would go toward kindergarten through 12th grade education and would allow the state to meet its obligation to fund schools under Amendment 23, the No Child Left Behind law, Rippy said.

Part of the criticism leveled at C and D has been the loss of state tax refunds. Rippy pointed out that in 2007, the average refund would amount to $71. Furthermore, no refunds have been made since a recession hit the state in 2001, he added.

Skramstad urged support for Amendment 2A, which would increase the city’s one-quarter cent sales tax by another quarter cent.

Ten years ago, he explained, the sales tax was approved by the voters to finance street maintenance in Glenwood Springs.

“Along the way other crises came up,” he said, including extensive repairs to the 23rd Street Bridge. Since then, street maintenance costs “have doubled or tripled in price. The city won’t let the streets turn into potholes, but pothole fixes are all you’ll get” if the measure doesn’t pass, he said.

Skramstad estimated it now costs about $1.6 million annually for street maintenance. “No way do we have that kind of money.”

The current tax brings in about $800,000 annually.

Without the added income, “impacts (to streets) will continue to grow and streets will continue to erode,” he said.

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