Buescher in District 55

Twice this newspaper has endorsed Democrat Bernie Buescher for state representative from House District 55. We do so once again, enthusiastically, but this time with a few words of caution.

Buescher, a longtime civic leader, lawyer and businessman, has served Mesa County admirably in the Legislature. One cannot go many places in this community without seeing something for which Buescher is responsible.

Mesa State College is a good example. With leadership provided by Buescher the state funded three new buildings on the campus during the past four years, worth nearly $100 million. He also was the driving force behind relocating the Colorado Bureau of Investigation offices from Montrose to Grand Junction and can point to a host of other legislation that he backed that was beneficial to his constituents.

He also served on the powerful Joint Budget Committee, and as a member of that body became a legislative leader. He is in line to become the next speaker of the House, a post that is arguably the second most powerful in the state. Having the speaker being from Mesa County can do nothing but good for people who live in Mesa County.

For those reasons, we think he is a better pick than his Republican opponent, businesswoman Laura Bradford.

But 2008 is not 2006 or 2004. We are of the opinion that the economic crisis the country is facing is far from over, and the state of Colorado can realistically expect to see revenues fall far short of forecasts.

Buescher has created a record of accomplishment in the Legislature. He also has created a record of doing everything he can to increase state revenues. He was an ardent supporter of Referendum C and was also a supporter of Gov. Bill Ritter’s so-called “mill levy freeze,” which amounts to a huge property-tax increase. Bradford, with her background as a small-business owner and limited-tax Republican, has understandably made that support a focus of her campaign against Buescher.

This year Buescher is backing Amendment 59, which would remove Taxpayer Bill of Rights revenue restrictions from the state, and is also a supporter of Amendment 58, a $320 million tax increase on the oil and gas industry.

We think some of those positions are the right ones to take. But we don’t think all of them are. More to the point, we urge Buescher to confront declining revenues with solutions other than raising taxes. The next two years, and maybe more, in the Legislature are likely to be financially difficult.

Legislators will likely have to decide that some state services will be eliminated or cut. That, to date, has not been Buescher’s modus operandi. We have great faith that it will be.


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