Despite the majority “no” vote the proposal received, not all in Fort Collins were happy with the final outcome of the controversial constitutional amendment 58 that would have directly impacted CSU students.
The amendment, one of eight that did not pass last Tuesday, proposed that the state eliminate the tax credit that oil and gas companies in Colorado currently receive, and that the new revenue gained from the elimination of the said credit be put towards Colorado’s dismal higher education funding.
Gov. Bill Ritter, D-Colo., proposed and supported amendment 58, but some in the state legislature, including Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Ft. Collins, did not agree with idea, saying it would raise taxes, cause energy prices to increase and “have a deleterious effect on the (state) economy.”
“It was a tax increase of over $300 million per year,” Lundberg said. “If you want to tell the oil and gas industry to go away then maybe it’s a good idea, but it’s not a good idea if you think it would be a revenue generator for the state.”
Sen. Bob Bacon, D-Ft. Collins, disagreed.
Bacon said the argument that 58 would raise taxes is “spurious” and said, while the amendment would remove the current tax credit, the new taxation rates on oil and gas would still be in line with industry standards and would be comparable to those in Wyoming and Utah.
While not perfect, the proposed amendment was the best way to help students with college affordability under Colorado’s limits on state funding and tightening budget, while still maintaining fair standards for the oil and gas companies, he said.
“I’m disappointed,” Bacon said. “I wanted so much to have some funds to help students with tuition costs.”
Lundberg, however, said Wyoming and other similar states are illegitimate examples because they do not have the same mineral and property taxes as Colorado.
He said the tax credit Colorado provides the oil and gas industry ultimately helps to even-out the taxation rates between states.
“It’s not a magic silver bullet,” Lundberg said, noting that no action is without consequences.
The state legislatures were not the only Fort Collins stakeholders with conflicting feelings the issue either.
Student government president Taylor Smoot was a strong supporter of the amendment and lamented its failure but said Coloradans have to accept the will of the people.
“It’s too bad it didn’t pass because I think the environment and higher education could’ve used that money, but you got to respect what people voted for,” Smoot said.
Students Sarah Dowdy, a sophomore social work major, and Megan Verros, a sophomore psychology major, agreed with Smoot.
“It’s kind of just a disappointment,” Verros said. “Education is obviously really important since I’m a college student.”
“Education should have more money,” said Dowdy, who claimed to be living off breakfast cereal due to insufferable college costs.
However, despite general support among students, not everyone on campus approved of the failed amendment.
Ian Lettow, a business management student, said he voted “no” on the issue because of same tax increase over which Lundberg expressed concern.
“I don’t want higher taxes,” Lettow said. “That’s my bottom line.”
Senior Reporter Jim Sojourner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.