To the editor:
Amendment 58 proposes to eliminate the property tax credit energy companies take against their severance tax liability, thereby increasing severance taxes. Additional revenues would be used for college scholarships, wildlife habitat, renewable energy projects, and, to a lesser extent, transportation and water projects. Initial claims that this amendment would "hold harmless" the direct distributions and grants from severance taxes to impacted local governments have since been dropped. In-depth study is needed for decision makers to fully understand this taxation issue and all affected stakeholders should be at the table when any additional revenues are allocated.
The narrow base of support for this amendment is derived from the way this amendment was formulated: in isolation by a small special interest group. Local governments, the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties, Inc. were allowed no input. Institutions of higher education were not consulted. Trade organizations and chambers of commerce were given no voice in framing this initiative.
Northwest Colorado, alone, has a projected infrastructure shortfall, at current funding levels, in excess of $300 million in the next 20 years. This anticipated shortfall is a result of the development of regional gas resources to meet the national need for clean-burning fuel. Severance taxes were enacted, in part, to mitigate the impacts of extraction, and yet Amendment 58 would raise the level of taxation and divert needed funds to less relevant projects, which are only peripherally connected with extraction.
Please vote 'no' on Amendment 58. The severance tax can be modified more effectively through modifying or eliminating the netback provision within the statute. The use of new revenues to best meet Colorado's needs deserves broader discussion and prioritization. Our legislators and local elected officials need to be involved. Give representative government an opportunity to act on this important issue by voting 'no' on Amendment 58.