Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Colorado College Legacy Fund" Proposal Introduced

Two Republicans introduced Thursday a proposed constitutional amendment requiring that the state's share of mineral lease revenues derived from federal lands be used to create and maintain a reserve fund for higher education.

SCR 007, which aims to create the "Colorado College Legacy Fund," is the vehicle by which a bipartisan group of legislators aims to turn an idea put forth by University of Colorado president Bruce Benson in March into law.

Originally, the measure's sponsors planned to freeze the state's share of federal mineral leasing revenues directed to K-12 education while increasing the share received by higher education and dedicating a portion to local governments to offset expenses relating to energy extraction activities.

However, House speaker Andrew Romanoff, with support from Gov. Bill Ritter, plans to introduce another means by which K-12 education can be stabilized. Romanoff's "SAFE" proposal would eliminate the Taxpayers Bill of Rights requirement that all tax revenues in excess of the TABOR cap be returned to taxpayers, instead directing any surplus into a K-12 "rainy-day" fund.

Meanwhile, Ritter and a host of private sector groups are discussing a number of initiatives aimed at raising extraction taxes on oil and gas developers and directing those taxes to environmental, municipal and other purposes.

SCR 007 is sponsored by Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, and Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma. It was Penry who encouraged Benson to sell the idea of dedicating the state's share of federal mineral leasing fees to higher education.