Colorado: Complaint filed over tax scholarships
July 7, 2008
DENVER, Colorado ” Opponents of a proposed ballot measure that would end a tax credit for the energy industry said Monday that state officials are already making rules to implement the plan even before it has made it on the ballot.
Coloradans for a Stable Economy asked a judge to order the Colorado Commission on Higher Eduction to stop drafting regulations for the measure, which would use the increased revenue for college scholarships.
“The measure has yet to be voted on and already they’re treating it like it is law. It’s not even on the ballot yet,” said Bill Ray, campaign manager for Coloradans for a Stable Economy. “The proponents are still out collecting signatures.”
John Karakoulakis, director of legislative affairs for the Colorado Department of Education, said the agency has not received a copy of the complaint and could not respond.
The initiative would ask voters to end a deduction for the oil and gas industry that allows producers to take a credit of up to 87.5 percent of the prior year’s property tax liability from their severance taxes.
Gov. Bill Ritter is backing the initiative for the November ballot. He said it would provide the state with more than $200 million a year.
Under the proposal, 60 percent of the increased revenue would go to a fund called Colorado Promise Scholarship, 15 percent to mitigate local impact of the oil and gas industry on transportation and water quality, 15 percent to wildlife habitat and 10 percent to clean-energy projects.
Some of the scholarship money would be put into a trust fund so students wouldn’t lose the aid if revenues decline.
Scholarships would be based on a family’s adjusted gross income and eligibility would be capped at higher income levels.
Scholarships would also be based on the number of students a family has in college. Students would be required to maintain a 2.5 or greater grade point average.