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Higher Ed & Ballot Measures

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Today’s Rocky Mountain News has a couple of items I wanted to bring attention to (and I’m only scratching the surface). The first:

CU Chief Tepid to Ritter Plan

Let’s start by describing Ritter’s plan, which isn’t done until the last 1/3 of the article (controversy over journalism).

Ritter endorsed a citizens initiative Thursday to eliminate a property tax credit for the oil and gas industry unique to Colorado. Killing the tax credit would bring the state about $200 million more a year.

Under the plan, 60 percent would go toward “Colorado Promise” scholarships to help families pay for college. The other 40 percent would be divided among projects to help communities offset the impacts of the oil and gas industry, set aside wildlife habitat and develop renewable energy sources.

Doesn’t sound that bad. What’s Benson got to say?

But Benson acknowledged that he and Ritter discussed an approach that would have sent the increased oil and gas revenues directly into universities’ operating budgets. Benson said he was never “cool” to the governor’s idea but argued that the oil and gas industry needed something in return – such as easing off on new environmental rules being drafted by state regulators.

Ah, the magical ability of Bruce Benson’s fundraising… no wait, Benson isn’t raising money, he’s telling the Governor that industry needs less regulation in return for directing severance money toward education. Benson won’t get behind any plan that doesn’t proactively neutralize expected opposition from the industry. That’s interesting. What threshold does Benson have in mind, exactly? How far would Gov. Ritter and others have to go before Benson gets aboard?

Or are those even the correct questions? What about: What is Benson’s first priority as CU President? Is it identifying sources of income for the state’s colleges and working to secure those funds? Or is it to fight for the interests of the industry where he made his millions? This is but one example why Benson shouldn’t have been the only choice to be CU’s President. His long-time loyalties seem to be in direct conflict with his current duties.

Benson is quoted in the article as not wanting to part of Custer’s Last Stand, citing the tens of millions of dollars the oil and gas industry would spend to defeat Ritter’s proposal, which would be presented to voters later this year. Benson also said that he needs operating money while warning the Referendum C will expire in 2 years.

Perhaps Benson should utilize his vaunted leadership skills and begin working to extend the effects of Ref C or do away with conflicting constitutional spending limits. Everybody knows higher education is in a bad spot financially in Colorado. Whining isn’t going to make it better.

*****

The second item I saw was fourteen proposed ballot initiatives were submitted to the Legislative Council yesterday. Are you ready for this? There could be 127 ballot measures this November. The good news: only one so far has been approved for the ballot. This is getting ridiculous. I consider myself somewhat of an issue junkie, but even I blanch at the thought of researching 127 measures, some of which are designed to compete with one another.

X-posted @ SquareState

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One thought on “Higher Ed & Ballot Measures

  1. Voters on initiatives need what legislators get: public hearings, expert testimony, amendments, reports, etc. The best project for such deliberative process is the National Initiative for Democracy, led by former Sen. Mike Gravel: http://Vote.org. Also http://cirwa.org

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