E-mail letters, March 4, 2011

SB 126 would allow undocumented students in-state tuition

Currently, the Colorado Legislature is tackling Senate Bill 126 entitled ASSET (Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow) that would allow undocumented students who have attended high school in Colorado to enroll in a Colorado university or college at the in-state tuition rate.

A 2009 fiscal evaluation by the non-partisan Colorado Legislative Council estimated that 900 students would attend Colorado’s higher education institutions under this program. This could mean an additional $1.75–$4.2 million in revenue coming in to Colorado colleges and universities, and no taxpayer dollars will be used. There is no logical reason to deny these students their right to an education.

When you develop close relationships with students, you listen to their personal stories about their family’s hardships and the disappointment with not being able to afford to attend college. It’s painful to digest their reality because no motivated student should be denied their education because of a choice their parents made to enter into this country unlawfully.

As educators we are driven to motivate, encourage and provide academic opportunities for students to pursue post secondary opportunities. Colorado has already invested in these students for their K–12 grade educations. It is a disservice to our communities not to continue the educational support of talented, diverse and eager students. Colorado needs to give motivated students a chance to further their education.

When this bill passes, I look forward to the faces of the many students we have worked with who know their dreams can become a reality. Let’s step it up Colorado before we lose our most talented students to our neighboring states Kansas, Nebraska, Utah and New Mexico who have passed this legislation already

MARY GONZALES
Founder, Co-Executive Director
Riverside Educational Center
Grand Junction

Republicans are acting in their own self interest

Who voted for these Republicans extremists, and did they have any idea of what they were voting for? The House Republicans just voted to slash the Environmental Protection Association budget by a third – more than any other agency. Why?

They want to stop the EPA from regulating green house gasses (because they don’t believe in global warming, despite the fact that 97 percent of scientists assure us it is happening), and they want to stop “excessive regulation” — such as protecting the public from cancer-causing chemicals that industry likes to use because it’s cheaper or easier than the alternatives.

Why did we hand power over to these bozos? At election time the reasons given were the high unemployment and the slow economic recovery. OK, I get that we were mad that Obama and the Democrats because they didn’t turn around the Bush debacle fast enough, and the public wanted immediate solutions to problems that occurred over decades. But weren’t the Republicans supposed to focus on jobs and the economy? Instead, they’ve focused on their fringe issues: tax cuts for the rich, destroying unions, slashing any programs that help the public but hold businesses responsible for their actions. Too bad we have to wait almost two more years to send another message.

Next time, think before you vote.

PETER WESTCOTT
Carbondale

We can’t continue to cut education

It’s time to face the facts. Endless cuts to our schools, our parks and our colleges won’t create new jobs. These endless cuts won’t grow our economy either. As the study from the University of Denver released last week shows, even though the economy is recovering, our state won’t be able to pay for basic and essential services without serious, long-term reform.

Coloradans do have a choice. We can continue making huge cuts in education, health care, our parks and natural resource protections, and all the things that make Colorado a great place to live. Or we can come together around a plan to increase revenue. We are in a race to the bottom — to become last in the nation for education funding. Colorado is 48th in funding K–12 education, 49th in funding higher education, and we are falling faster every day. Colorado’s kids soon won’t be able to compete with students in other states —much less with students around the world.

As the study showed, we will have a “structural imbalance” forever without major changes. The only choice we have is to keep making huge cuts from K–12 and health care, or raise revenue. The last few years have seen more tax breaks for businesses and a tumbling economy; record profits and soaring unemployment. The experts say we can’t “grow” our way out of this mess. Let’s listen to them and do something now to save our schools.

WAYNE FLICK
Cimarron

Making more cuts doesn’t make sense

Paul Nelson and Jeff Wendland’s Feb. 27 column made some good points about the beauty of Mesa County’s abundant natural resources and discussed the importance of outdoor recreation here. However, they failed to address the scope of our country’s budget crisis and recognize that in order to get our fiscal house in order, we must make cuts to all programs funded by the federal government — regardless of what fund the money is coming from.

Over 10 percent of Mesa County’s population is currently unemployed, oil is trading at just under $100 a barrel, our economy is still recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression and our annual deficit is at an unprecedented $1.5 trillion.

Cutting spending and working toward balancing the federal budget should be priority number one for our lawmakers, and that means making cuts to funding across the board. All programs must be looked at and cuts must be made if we are ever to get our budget back in line.

Rep. Scott Tipton should continue the fight to balance the budget and restore fiscal responsibility to our country — even when it means cutting some funding to the federally sponsored programs we love. I applaud his efforts thus far and say keep up the good work.

RUTH EHLERS
Grand Junction

Lottery could benefit education

I am asking Gov. John Hickenlooper, members of the Colorado Legislature, and the Colorado Teachers Association to consider supporting an educational lottery devoted to K–12. It is time for our state and educational leaders to get creative.

I understand that this type of legislative action may require an amendment to the constitution like our current lottery. This lottery would provide a guaranteed minimum of funds each year for K–12. I believe that the public would support this idea as opposed to raising taxes. I am sure that the teachers would support this idea as well.

As a former educator, I do not want to see any teachers lose their jobs due to the irresponsible actions of our state government. Let’s save and improve K–12 education in Colorado and not destroy it! We need to protect the future of our children and the careers of many valuable teachers. Call the governor or your legislator today and ask them to support this legislation this session.
RANDY FRICKE
New Castle

Monument has been used for bike races in the past

Apparently, the concept of precedence does not resonate with the superintendent of the Colorado National Monument or the Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association. Both, we have recently discovered, are opposed to the use of the monument for a stage of the Quiznos Pro Challenge bicycle race.
The precedence in question is the previous use of the monument’s Rim Rock Drive for the 1980–88 Coors Classic bike races, as well as a location site for the 1985 movie, American Flyers. Google the Wikipedia website for the Coors Classic and you will access the following excerpt:
“The Coors International Bicycle Classic had many storied stages, including the world-renowned Morgol-Bismarck circuit. The site of the Grand Junction, CO, road race, the Colorado National Monument, was so exotic in appearance that the stage became known as ‘The Tour of the Moon’ and was even featured in the Warner Brothers movie American Flyers.”
There is no doubt that the U.S. Park Service authorized approval for the use of Rim Rock Drive for several Tour of the Moon stages and as a location shoot for American Flyers. To the best of my knowledge, there were no adverse impacts from the bike race or the movie.
So why, then, are supporters of another local stage race, perhaps as early as 2012, being told that the monument is now off limits, other than as a route for a celebratory victory lap? That is what the organizing committee, as well as U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper would like to know.
DENNIS PRETTI
Grand Junction



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