September 28, 2008

Give $320 Mill to Big Oil? Hell no? Then vote Yes on Colorado’s Amendment 58. [videos: New Era Colorado; Bill Ritter; so-called Coloradans for a Stable Economy]

Videos at bottom. Immediately below: excerpt from the Rocky Mountain News:

The costliest battle in state history over Amendment 58, a ballot measure to raise tax revenues from the oil and gas industry, is at fever-pitch roughly five weeks before the elections.

In the latest salvo, a coalition of students, education activists and political nonprofit New Era Colorado who support Amendment 58 on Wednesday denounced opponent ads funded by oil and gas companies.

The group said the ads disparaged students as “special interests” after an opponent campaign official said scholarships funded by the measure would amount to “weekend beer money.”

“The idea of Big Oil calling anyone a ‘special interest’ is ridiculous on its face,” said New Era Colorado Executive Director Steve Fenberg. “But to spend millions insulting Colorado families and students is really over the top.”

Fenberg referred to comments by Rick Reiter in a Rocky Mountains News story published Saturday.

Reiter, an official with Coloradans for a Stable Economy, the group funded with nearly $10 million in contributions from oil and gas companies to fight Amendment 58, called the measure a “handout” that would only provide most students with “weekend beer money.”

The measure, if approved by voters in November, would generate an estimated $320 million by killing a property tax credit enjoyed by oil and gas companies in Colorado. Under the proposal, 60 percent of that money would be set aside for scholarships.

Students could receive an estimated $1,000 to $6,000 per year for college under the scholarship plan, depending on family income and the type of institution attended such as community college or a four-year university.

They also might have to meet a particular grade-point average, although none has been finalized.

Supporters led by Gov. Bill Ritter have raised more than $2 million, with The Nature Conservancy alone contributing $1.175 million.

On the other side, companies such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, Williams, Noble and EnCana have contributed $1 million apiece – part of $10 million overall contributions – to defeat Amendment 58. The measure, they say, coupled with an ongoing overhaul of Colorado drilling regulations amounts to a tax hike that will push up energy prices and hurt local economies.

Both sides have jammed the airwaves with ads, regularly put out press releases and flyers denouncing each other.

Bill Ritter, the gov we luv:

Douchebag number two (after Rick Heiter), Dan Hopkins:


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