Under a cloudless autumn sky Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Bill Ritter challenged CSU students on the Lory Student Center Plaza to vote yes on Amendment 58.
If passed, the amendment would repeal tax breaks for oil and gas companies, reallocating the funds to higher education, among other areas.
The Associated Students of CSU, required to remain non-partisan as student government, were forced to withdraw from sponsoring the event as originally intended when they were unable to produce opposition to the amendment, ASCSU President Taylor Smoot said.
The Young Democrats coordinated the event.
Ritter’s support of Amendment 58 has angered the in-state oil community, and many companies, such as Coloradans for a Stable Economy, have spent millions of dollars to combat the initiative.
These millions include funding “attack ads” against Ritter, which may have contributed to the recent and significant drop in his polled popularity.
The amendment will remove the current $320 million tax subsidy from Colorado energy companies and be transferred to what Ritter believes to be more pressing concerns.
Despite record profit margins, Colorado energy companies are still receiving growing tax subsidies and have been since the late 1970s, according to Ritter.
When asked if he believes whether or not the amendment will affect the price at the gas pump, Ritter said no.
“It definitely won’t because national regulations will decide the price for such a commodity,” he said.
Ritter followed his brief speech on the plaza with a question and answer segment. He noted that CSU students are remarkably well-educated on local politics and government, and Amendment 58, he said, would only add to that education.
If passed, the amendment will triple current in-state tuition funding, as well as allocate $45 million to wildlife habitat projects and renewable energy projects alike.
“We’ve seen double-digit increases in CSU tuition fees,” said Blake Gibson, chief of staff of ASCSU, who introduced the governor onto the LSC plaza stage.
“So when are we, as the so-called future, going to do something?”
Ritter said higher education should never be beyond the financial reach of any income bracket.
“We should do what we can as a state to ensure affordability,” he said.
“We talk about opportunity, we believe in opportunity, but what we really need is opportunity for all, and that’s what Amendment 58 offers.”
Staff writer Tyler Okland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.