Eight area mayors oppose Amendment 52
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A coalition of eight mayors from Aspen to Parachute have all come out in opposition to Amendment 52.
That initiative would amend the state constitution and direct severance tax money the Colorado Department of Natural Resources uses to fund many things like water projects, to pay for highway projects, with priority given to efforts along Interstate 70.
Severance taxes are paid to the state from companies that extract non-renewable natural resources like oil and natural gas.
Mountain Mayors, a group that includes the mayors of New Castle, Glenwood Springs, Basalt, Carbondale, Aspen, Rifle, Parachute and Snowmass Village, say while they understand the challenges the state faces in funding highway projects, the amendment does not give the Colorado Department of Transportation the tools it needs to address infrastructure and congestion issues.
“Instead, it puts funding mandates in the constitution for transportation (at) the same time Amendment 59 proposes taking funding mandates out of the constitution,” the mayors said in a letter released Thursday.
Amendment 52 would maintain the current severance tax rate but, even if revenues increase, cap the money going to those state programs at the previous year’s amount, plus inflation.
State analysts say the Colorado Department of Natural Resources would get $181 million next year under current law, but only $92 million if Amendment 52 passes.
The rest, $89 million, would be shifted to highway projects.
The group of mayors also endorsed Referendum O, which would decrease the number of signatures required to place a statutory ballot initiative, which the state legislature can later alter, on voters’ November ballot.
It would also increase the number of signatures required to place a constitutional initiative on the ballot, along with requiring that signatures for proposed constitutional amendments be gathered from the state’s congressional districts.
The mayors also endorsed Amendment 59, which would eliminate rebates that taxpayers receive when the state collects more money than is allowed, and put the money toward pre-school through 12th grade education.
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The BLM will conduct an environmental assessment of the proposed wells needed to begin the NEPA process on the larger quarry expansion.