Fixing the budget mess |

Fixing the budget mess

Gary Lindstrom

Last Monday Senate President Joan Fitz Gerald gave the opening remarks at the annual Recycling Conference in Breckenridge. Her theme was the importance of passing Referendums C and D in November. One of her points was the need to take care of our transportation system that is in severe disrepair.Joan used as an example a conversation she had with Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Tom Norton. She had asked him what Colorado highway, in his opinion, was most in the need of repair. He replied that he felt it was Colorado 119 and Highway 6 in Clear Creek Canyon. This is the main route to the casinos in Black Hawk and Central City.Fewer than three hours later a wall of over one million pounds of rock fell down on Highway 6 a couple of miles from Black Hawk. Two gravel trucks were forced off the road, and one driver was transported to the hospital.I am not saying that Sen. Fitz Gerald is psychic, but what an object lesson. A million pounds of rock.CDOT said immediately that it would probably take four days to clean up the roadway but it might take several weeks to scale the rest of the loose rocks from the sides of the cliff.CDOT is getting a lot of experience after the rock slide in Glenwood Canyon and the on-going problems on Georgetown Hill that have resulted in the death of one person in the past couple of years.I drive Clear Creek Canyon twice a week on Sundays to go to Boulder to see my wife. I know that if the rock had slid on a Sunday, several people would have been killed, since the road is wall-to-wall cars.In two other unrelated incidents, a man from California drowned on Sunday in the same area while he was wading, yes, wading, in Clear Creek. During the runoff the force of the water is immense, as a driver of a pickup found out in Coal Creek Canyon near Pinecliff when he drove into the water and drowned, trapped in his vehicle.I am not saying it was not a coincidence that all three events happened in the same area. What I am saying is our highways are in terrible shape and need to be fixed today and not tomorrow.Both Vail Pass and Highway 9 between Frisco and Breckenridge are slated to receive some of the funds, should Referendums C and D pass. It is imperative they pass.As the election heats up I am reminded of Al Franken’s recent book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.”A few examples:– Your taxes will go up. Referendums C and D do not raise taxes. What they do is suspend the TABOR refund for a period of five years. This provision is currently in TABOR and nothing will be changed in the law. Most towns and counties have already done this.– TABOR is being repealed. Referendums C and D will do nothing to change TABOR. The TABOR law that was passed in the early 1990s is a constitutional measure. In order to change or eliminate TABOR we would have to have a statewide election. That is not happening, and don’t let anyone tell you that it is.– The best parts of TABOR will disappear. Referendums C and D don’t touch any of the neat parts of the law. Single question ballot issues will remain. Yes meaning yes and no meaning no will remain. The part that mandates that we have to have an election to raise taxes stays in place.– The refund will permanently be gone. Referendums C allows the state to suspend the TABOR refund for five years and to use that revenue to build highways, fix schools and backfill the funds raided during the recent recession. At the end of five years the refund returns unless there is another election to continue the refund elimination.– The money will just be used to make government bigger. Referendum D allows the state to sell bonds secured by the refund dollars to finance the highway and school projects. Government will not get bigger. Government will just get better.– The money will just be used to make certain departments bigger and will only be used along the Front Range. The tax money will be used for projects that will be to the benefit of the entire state of Colorado and not to a special interest or any single part of state government.Simply put, Referendums C and D are a win-win for the people of the State of Colorado. For pennies per day per person we will be able to fix our highways, fix our schools and fix our government. For pennies a day we might be able to prevent a rock slide like the one a week ago in Clear Creek Canyon.State Rep. Gary Lindstrom of Breckenridge represents Eagle County in the state House of Representatives.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism