Commissioner still unsure about referendums

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Moffat County Commissioner Saed Tayyara isn't sure where he stands on two budget measures on this year's ballot.

Tayyara and Commissioner Darryl Steele attended the Colorado Counties Inc. summer conference in Vail this week, where Gov. Bill Owens and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff discussed Referendums C and D.

Commissioner Tom Gray did not attend the conference.

The referendums are part of a bipartisan effort to boost funding for state programs that have seen their state funding cut in recent years.

If Referendum C passes, lawmakers would spend $3.1 billion during a five-year span that otherwise would be given back to taxpayers under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

Referendum D is a bond for capital investments. The bond would be paid off in part with 10 percent of the money from Referendum C.

The referendums are seen as a way to get the state out from under TABOR restrictions, or as a way to weasel out of TABOR limits, depending on who you ask.

Commissioner Tayyara said he didn't have his mind made up about the referendums before the CCI conference and still hasn't made a decision.

"I'm neutral because I know the purpose of (TABOR) but it became unreasonable," Tayyara said.

Tayyara is a Republican and voted for TABOR in 1992, but since then, he has developed some reservations about the amendment.

"It made officials accountable," Tayyara said. "But no one really knew the impact of it."

TABOR was especially helpful, Tayyara said, because it made state legislators look hard at the budget and say no to unnecessary programs.

"It was an eye-opener for the legislators," he said.

Referendum C would inject close to $1 billion into K-12 education, health care and higher education. Owens and Romanoff say all three areas need more money, and Tayyara agrees.

"I'm a conservative person," Tayyara said. "But never-the-less, I see the desperate need of that revenue to be used."

TABOR spending limits are often referred to as the "Bruce effect," named for the amendment's chief author, Colorado Springs Republican Douglas Bruce.

Bruce is an El Paso County commissioner now, but Tayyara doesn't know if Bruce, who opposes Referenda C and D, attended the CCI conference.

"I didn't see him," Tayyara said.

Commissioner Steele could not be reached for comment.

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