Jack Taylor, Republican – candidate for Colorado State Senate Dist. 8
Taylor has lived in the Steamboat Springs area for more than 30 years and was first elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1992. He was elected to the Colorado Senate in 2000.
by Scott MillerDaily Staff WriterQ: As the region’s drought persists, Front Range owners of Western Slope water rights will put increasing pressure on the area’s streams and reservoirs. What’s your plan to protect local interests while still honoring the legal rights of those who own the water?A: Over the past two years we have passed legislation to allow, for the first time, a legal way to lease or loan water for short periods of time. This allows water rights owners with excess water to, for a price, pass that water to local municipalities or other neighbors and then end that arrangement after a specific period of time. It is working, but basin-of-origin transfers are a concern. Also, there have been some voluntary cooperative efforts. Xcel Energy has released some of their water rights on the Colorado River to other users in Colorado.We need to establish better and more permanent water conservation efforts on both side of the Continental Divide. Denver, and others, must get realistic about drought conditions.In the long range, we must build more storage capacity. As the water rights are purchased by Front Range interests, and legally transferred to the Front Range (such as at the proposed Wolcott reservoir), we must build that capacity to a number greater than the acre feet that entity has the legal right to transfer. Then in wet years we can begin to store more of Colorado’s allocation from the Colorado River compact of 1922, and have the ability to release that water slowly during dry years.Q: As the Western Slope grows, so does its need for water. How can we meet that need, and what solutions are available at a state level to get the job done?A: Basin-of-origin protection, which I have fought for and will continue to fight for with legislation as required.All we are asking for in basin-of-origin protection is the requirement for all affected partied to sit down at the table, identify the impacts and needs of all parties, and respond accordingly. That includes expanding existing reservoir capacity (raising existing dams and dredging silted reservoirs), and the construction of new reservoirs, such at the one at Wolcott.As vice chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a member of the Water Resources Review Committee, we toured the Wolcott reservoir site in August. It has great potential, but in the best case, it is still several years out before construction could start.In order to protect our environment and quality of life – and, ultimately, our economy – I will continue to pursue basin-of-origin protection before it is too late. In the meantime, hopefully Mother Nature will be more helpful.Q: The state’s budget continues to be squeezed by the conflicting requirements of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), Amendment 23 and the Gallagher Amendment. Several efforts to craft a compromise solution failed earlier this year. What’s your favored solution, and how can a compromise be hammered out?A: In a recent conversation with a member of the Joint Budget Committee, we are still looking at $250 million cuts in each of the next two years. Without a permanent fix on TABOR and Amendment 23, we are faced with making “Band-Aid” fixes – cuts – in 2005 and 2006, and 2006 is the first year a change can be put to the voters for a constitutional change.We must establish a compromise position between TABOR and Amendment 23 that is acceptable to the voters.I favor the relaxation of the requirements of both TABOR and Amendment 23 for a very clear and specific period of time (such as one year) with as equal as possible dollar impact on each. Set the timing of the relaxation to capture the current shortfall, then reinstate both.The final element would be to structure some minor, but permanent, tweaks to both TABOR and Amendment 23 to establish trigger points to activate in the future that would prevent our current dilemma from happening again. There is also a proposal that would eliminate Amendment 23 in 2011 because it would be fully funded in that year by the mechanism in the proposal, and I like that one.Q: With the state’s budget crunch has come postponement of several projects along Interstate 70. How crucial are any of these projects in the next 10 years? If these projects are necessary, is it possible to get any of them started given the current budget?A: First, it is very crucial to keep all projected and actual projects to the I-70 corridor in the pipeline so we don’t get farther behind the curve. Playing catch-up is always more difficult.Second, in order to get them started, and keep them in the mix, we should push for more federal dollars, and explore the possibility of financing similar to the T-REX project.When you look at the role tourism plays in Colorado’s economy, and particularly the dollars coming from west of the Continental Divide, there is an argument to be made for dollars to pursue existing and new projects.Q: Finally, and using as little campaign rhetoric as possible, why do you want this job?A: I still have important things I want to do, like basin-of-origin protection, finding a permanent solution for stabilizing funding for the promotion of tourism, addressing the budget, transportation and health insurance issues.During the 12 years I have been in the General Assembly I have applied common sense and business experience to the legislative process. As a result I have passed over 80 percent of all legislation I carried as a prime sponsor. This indicates I am legislatively effective.At the same time I have developed the ability to cross the political aisle to build coalitions to pass good legislation for Senate District 8 or, just as important, kill bad bills.As the Western Slope’s senior legislator, I bring a strong background of hands-on experience that is critical to northwestern Colorado in getting the types of projects and legislation we need.Seniority, and the trust, confidence and respect of your fellow legislators, only come with time. We need to keep that experience and institutional knowledge working for northwest Colorado. I want to be there leading the charge. Not for me, but for the people of Senate District 8.Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgVail Colorado
District 8 encompasses an economically diverse region that has ranchers, miners and tourism-dependent industries. It contains all of Eagle, Routt, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco counties and most of Garfield County.While Taylors is Eagle Countys senator, Fetcher also has a connection to the area. One of his daughters lives in Red Cliff and serves as the administrative assistant at the Gore Range Natural Science School.