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Yes on C and D

Alex Miller

The drum beat to defeat Referendums C and D from the camp of the no-tax right is getting louder, aimed at confusing people as to what the real issues are here.Apparently, these people will only be satisfied when all state government offices are in tents and caves, public schools are decimated, and Humvees are the only vehicles that can negotiate our tattered highways.They say they’re all about smaller government and lower taxes. But when pushed for answers on how to address the state’s fiscal needs, all they can offer is cutting services or “streamlining” government. Meanwhile, Colorado’s infrastructure is, literally, crumbling. A recent survey projected a need of $91 million just to fix the state’s worst 20 bridges. Anyone really want to skimp on those repairs?Sure, we’d love to have the services of Norway with the tax bills of Nevada, but that’s not reality. As the recent devastating hurricanes have shown us, trimming government services to the bone isn’t always the greatest idea, and there are some good uses of taxpayer dollars.Colorado, which indeed has benefited from the fiscal constraints of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), has also suffered. Rising populations and demand for services can’t keep pace under TABOR, and our roads, schools and services have all felt the pinch.It is a tax increase, as opponents assert? Technically, yes, to the extent that the refunds stipulated by TABOR for any excess revenue are refunded to taxpayers. But balanced against the greater needs of the state, the relatively small checks – in the years that they come at all – don’t make sense.When a conservative Republican governor tells you this is a good idea, it may be time to listen. Gov. Bill Owens likely has a better idea of the state’s big budget picture than anyone else, and his political religion makes it unlikely he’s pushing for C and D just for the tax-and-spend heck of it. But even with Owens’ imprimatur, voters may be baffled by the referendums and simply vote against them because all they hear is TV ads braying “tax increase.”Remember: A “yes” on Referendum C is only giving permission for the state to hang onto an additional $3.7 billion over the next five years. Referendum D would allow the state to borrow $2.1 billion to fund roads, schools and health care. Few areas of the state are more dependent on decent roads than the Vail Valley. They’re essential for our economy, and who wants to visit a state with Kabul-like highways? Our kids deserve better in our schools, and no matter how hard conservatives want to look away from publicly funded health care, the poor and uninsured are still going to show up at our hospitals and clinics.We’ll be hearing plenty more of this from both camps. But keep this in mind: If you vote for C and D, chances are pretty good that the only differences you’ll notice as a result will be positive ones, both for our state and our valley.Road projects that depend on Referendum DHere’s a sampling of the Colorado Department of Transportation projects in Eagle and neighboring counties that would likely be scrapped or delayed if Referendums C and D are voted down:– I-70 over Vail Pass (Eagle and Summit Counties) – environmental clearance and westbound climbing lanes (2.2 mile segment)– I-70 at Dowd Junction/US 24 (Eagle County) – ramp improvements, curve smoothing, retaining wall replacement– State Highway 82 Maroon Creek Bridge in Aspen, State Highway 114 Tomichi Creek Bridge, east of Gunnison, State Highway 131 Bridge in Oak Creek, State Highway 82 at Basalt (Pitkin, Route, Gunnison, Eagle counties) – bridge replacements and bridge enhancement at Basalt– I-70 in Glenwood Springs, U.S. 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass and U.S. 40 at Maybell (Eagle, Moffat, Jackson counties) – resurfacing– I-70 West at Empire Junction and another location yet to be determined (Clear Creek County) – acceleration lane– U.S. 285 between Conifer and Bailey, Deer Creek Interchange (Park County) – new interchange construction– State Highway 9 from Valley Brooke north (Summit County) – widening (four miles)– U.S. 24 at the bottom of Tennessee Pass (Lake County) – minor widening for shoulders and reconstruction (.2 mile segment)– Roaring Fork Transit Authority (Pitkin, Garfield counties) – provides federal transit fund match for bus maintenance facility reconstruction– State Highway 9 and U.S. 40 just outside of Kremmling (Grand County) – widening for shoulders and reconstruction (Source: Yes On C&D)Vail, Colorado


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