2012 Colorado legislation: Resolution to keep funds earmarked for water infrastructure from being raided passes the interim water resources committee at the state legislature


From the Cortez Journal (State Senator Ellen Roberts):

Any legislator can carry a bill relating to water policy outside of those approved by the committee, but the value of having the committee’s approval at the start of the next session is that the subject matter of the bill has already been discussed and debated, with a supermajority of committee members voting to advance the idea on to the full legislature in January.

My being a member of the water committee was valuable for hearing the current water issues and concerns as presented by experts on various topics affecting our state water policies. I’m pleased to report that a resolution that I presented to the committee, which restates and reinforces the need to respect existing law regarding adequate funding to support Colorado’s water infrastructure, passed by a wide margin and will be introduced as a committee resolution this winter.

Too often, the funds for water infrastructure have been shifted to other uses in the budget and, like the energy impact funds for local communities, the legislature needs to apply the necessary fiscal discipline and foresight to use the funding for its original purposes. To do otherwise is another unfortunate example of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

More coverage from Joe Hanel writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:

[Governor] Hickenlooper’s budget for next year, released Tuesday, gives rural lawmakers a few glimmers of hope. He proposes leaving $10 million in an account filled by taxes on gas and oil production so the state can resume making grants to local governments affected by gas drilling…

The state Department of Local Affairs stopped making grants in 2009 and instead shoveled the gas and oil severance tax money into the ailing general fund budget.

Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, sponsored bills this spring to halt the practice. Both bills died in a committee in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Roberts called the $10 million that Hickenlooper has left for local grants a step in the right direction, “although only a baby step at this point.” “Still, I’d like to commend him for recognizing that those funds are by current law supposed to go to local communities and are important for putting people to work in the areas of the state where unemployment is very high,” Roberts said in an email interview…

Hickenlooper said he had no choice but to go after the money again. Otherwise, his proposed education cuts of $175 million would have to be even larger. “Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to make sure all the severance taxes go back into that grant program for the Department of Local Affairs,’ Hickenlooper said. “That’s how the old school politics worked. Give out these grants in the right places, and things went well.”

More 2012 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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