Owens rallies for C and D
HAYDEN — Gov. Bill Owens on Thursday accused a group opposing Referendums C and D of laundering money and hiding as he rallied for the measures.
During a visit to The Haven Assisted Living Center in Hayden, Owens said the Club for Growth, a political advocacy group, is accepting money for its campaign to defeat the referendums but won’t divulge its funding source.
“Their side is hiding,” he told a standing-room only crowd. Club for Growth, Owens said, “launders money” by accepting campaigns from national figures and using it for the opposition’s Colorado campaign.
“I use that term with a clear understanding of what it means,” Owens said.
Club for Growth leaders could not be reached for comment.
Owens was in Hayden to discuss the effects of referendums C and D on rural residents.
He is touring the state stumping for the measures before Tuesday’s election.
Owens’ tour is being paid for by the “Vote Yes On C and D” campaign. Referendum C asks Colorado voters to forgo an estimated $3.7 billion that would otherwise be credited back to taxpayers under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.
The money would be used for transportation, health care, education and pensions for police officers and firefighters. Referendum D is a bond for capital construction projects, primarily roads and schools. The bond would be paid in part with 10 percent of the money from Referendum C. If Referendum C fails, so does D, but C can pass without D.
If the referendums fail, lawmakers will be forced to cut $370 million from the state’s budget. Every department in the state would feel the effects, Owens said.
“We can’t afford to cut the remaining part of the budget,” he said. Opponents have scoffed at the notion of a budget crisis and have said the state doesn’t need more taxpayer dollars.
Cuts would be particularly severe in rural areas, including Northwest Colorado, Owens said.
“The most rural parts of the state are the most at-risk if C and D go down,” he said.
Urban areas, Owens said, have more votes, more representatives and more clout in the Legislature. Energy Impact grants from the Department of Local Affairs could be at risk if the referendums fail, he said. The state gives the grants to Colorado counties where minerals are extracted. The grants are used to fund infrastructure and other projects.
Since 1995, Moffat County entities have received more than $10 million in such grants.
But that money could be used to balance the budget if C and D fail, Owens said.
Mike Beasley, director of the Department of Local Affairs, agreed.
“Those communities like Northwest Colorado that are impacted by the energy industry, you better hold on,” Beasley said.
Local officials at Thursday’s presentation said the also were concerned about losing the energy impact grants.
“If we don’t protect the impact fund, we are dead on arrival,” Moffat County Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.
At least one person at Thurs–day’s presentation changed his stance a little after Owens’ speech.
Bob Grubb, 71, of Craig said he opposed C and D because he believed the measures would benefit only roads and urban areas.
But Owens told Grubb Referendum C would not affect roads. Referendum D would, he said.
After the presentation, Grubb said he wasn’t sure about his stance.
“I’m wavering on C, but I still oppose D,” he said.
Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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