Printed letters, August 13, 2013
Believing that facts are beautiful things and often underused, I am compelled to respond to Rick Wagner’s column regarding the upcoming ballot measure for education funding.
Wagner’s description of the proposed raises in the state income tax rate ignores the fact that taxes in Colorado are low. According to an analysis by CNN, Colorado ranks 30th in personal income tax, 30th in sales and excise tax and 45th in total tax burden. There is really very little room for us to have a lower state tax rate than we do.
Wagner, during his mention of standardized testing, compares today’s students’ education unfavorably to the “insufficiently” funded students of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
In fact, during the decade of the ‘70s, Colorado funded its students at a rate that ranged from $58 below to $160 above the national average per pupil expenditure. In 2010,Colorado funded its students at a rate of $1,726 per pupil less than the national average.
If you consider the national average to be a “C,” one can only conclude that we are a “D” or an “F.” Anyone interested in facts about education funding in the state should visit http://www.greateducation.org/wp-content/uploads/fundinggraphic.jpg.
So, with respect, we are not paying too much in taxes overall and the amount we spend on education funding is drastically worse than the ‘70s.
It is likely that Amendment 66 will be on the November ballot. I encourage the good citizens of Mesa County to consider facts such as these in their decision-making.
PERA funding fully on track, thanks to reforms, sacrifices
Rick Wagner’s claim in his Aug. 8 column, “Ballot measure to raise money for education is unnecessary,” that Colorado’s state pension system, PERA, is a “serious problem” couldn’t be further from the truth.
Wagner’s memory is very short if he doesn’t remember that our very own state Sen. Josh Penry stepped up in 2010 to ensure PERA’s sustainability.
Thanks to the reforms and shared sacrifice by classroom teachers, highway workers and retirees, PERA is on track to be fully funded in the time it takes to pay off a typical mortgage.
DAVID G. EISNER
Bureaucrats, drillers can find ways to compromise
It seems that federal government agencies are trying to outdo each other when it comes to throwing obstacles in the path of oil shale development. First the BLM gives in to the demands of a litigation-happy “environmental” coalition, and sharply reduces the amount of land available to even conduct oil shale research on. Now a competing agency comes along and wants to slap even more restrictions on the little land left.
The 100-plus square miles in western Colorado and eastern Utah that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to list as critical habitat for two desert flowers just happens to include a decent chunk of what little land the BLM saw fit to leave for oil shale R&D. It may just be a coincidence, but it seems a pretty ludicrous excuse to slap what amounts to a nearly complete ban on oil shale development.
This is not to say that I or anyone else who is supportive of energy development favors the extinction of these plants. It simply means we recognize that it is hardly a foregone conclusion that oil shale development will mean the disappearance of them, and that the stewardship the industry has shown itself capable of could be the best thing that ever happened to these wildflowers.
Instead of tripping over themselves trying to see who gets to drive the final nail into the coffin of the oil shale industry — and the long -term economic hopes of the rural western U.S. — maybe the bureaucrats who staff these agencies could dedicate some time to working with the industry to help ensure that oil shale production and beardtongue can coexist.
Ken Salazar stymied oil shale development
The Daily Sentinel is right to doubt, in its Aug. 4 editorial, “Oil Shale Back In Court,” that a Ken Salazar-directed BLM would ever miss an opportunity to overstate a real or fictitious hazard in its quest to stop energy development, especially oil shale. Given the visceral antagonism toward oil shale displayed by Salazar and his department, the fact that his BLM would allow any land whatsoever for oil shale development is proof it will have far less of an impact than the environmentalists hope.
As you also pointed out in your editorial, the environmentalist coalition responsible for the previous obstructive lawsuit is really grasping at straws on this one. The BLM cannot even begin consulting substantively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before individual leases are up for consideration, a stage that they do not want anybody to even get to.
I am pleased the Sentinel recognizes both that the courts have been given an inappropriate amount of influence and decision-making over public policy, and that this is paralyzing needed research into responsible oil shale development.
Like the Sentinel and most Americans, I, too, hope that a reasonable and intelligent federal judge will restore perspective, balance and sanity into public land management policy, or at the very least, impose some limits on the incessant litigation that takes the place of reasoned policy-making.
MAX L. SMITH