Taylor discusses water, tourism initiatives

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Craig City Council members listened politely but took no actions in response to state Sen. Jack Taylor's request that they oppose Referendum A and support Amendment 33.

Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, attended Tuesday's Craig City Council meeting to update members on two questions that will be on the Nov. 4 statewide ballot.

Referendum A would make $2 billion available to individuals and government entities to borrow against in order to bond water storage projects.

"It has become one of the more hotly contested issues and I think it will become more hotly contested as time goes by," Taylor said. "We're all in favor of coming up with ways to develop water storage in all of Colorado. The issue is how we do it."

Taylor is campaigning against the Referendum for several reasons:

  • There are no basin of origin protection or compensatory storage provisions in the referendum.

"We need to make sure we have the protection we need through basin of origin protection," Taylor said.

  • The referendum is a "blank check" in that it doesn't identify any specific water storage projects.
  • It creates law with which there can be no compliance.

The referendum requires that the Colorado Water Conservation Board select two water storage projects to recommend to the governor and then requires that the governor chose one of those projects to begin by 2005. According to Taylor, the process of expanding water storage is a lengthy one and the permitting process is extensive and time-intensive.

  • There is no need for the financing provided by the referendum.

"Financing now is not a problem," Taylor said. "The problem is a lack of revenue stream to repay the debt."

The Colorado Water and Power Authority has unlimited bonding authority.

  • Public and private entities already can enter into bonding partnerships for water storage projects.
  • It doesn't help agricultural producers because most do not have a revenue stream to repay the debt.
  • There's no legislative oversight.

As outlined by the referendum, the governor has carte blanche authority to determine the first water storage project.

"It further politicizes water issues and I don't think water issues need to be further politicized," Taylor said.

He provided a draft resolution of opposition to the council.

Council members accepted the draft but made no indication as to whether they would consider the resolution.

Amendment 33

Amendment 33 would allow the installation of video lottery terminals at existing gaming locations, including four Colorado dog tracks, one horse track and casinos. Revenues generated from the amendment would support local parks and recreation projects, state parks projects, Great Outdoors Colorado, public school construction and tourism.

The potential to raise $25 million for tourism is one of the reasons Taylor supports the amendment.

"It would help us regain a major portion of our economy that we've been losing for a number of years," he said. "We're really talking about jobs and economy."

Taylor said current law allows video lottery terminals to be placed nearly everywhere at the approval of the Colorado Lottery Commission. The amendment would limit the placement of those terminals to only those places listed in the amendment.

"I think that's really critical," he said. "Clearly it closes the door on the expansion of gaming devises."

The provisions in the amendment sunset after 15 years.

"This would provide a funding mechanism for at least a 15-year period which is reliable," Taylor said.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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