Former lawmakers rally against water cap

Mesa County’s last batch of state lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction, and Rep. Gayle Berry, R-Grand Junction, rallied Friday against a plan to divert severance tax revenues to Interstate 70 improvements.

Former state Rep. Matt Smith, R-Grand Junction, called Amendment 52 a plan to sap Colorado’s water resources to repair roads.

“This goes past party lines,” Smith said. “This is just bad for Colorado.”

Berry, who represented House District 55 from 1997 through 2004, said in a statement that Amendment 52 simply places one more restrictive spending mandate in the state Constitution.

Amendment 52 caps the amount of money flowing to the Department of Natural Resources for water projects and other programs. The funds, instead, are earmarked for road improvements along I-70.

“We must not put another spending requirement in our state Constitution,” Berry said in a statement.

“This is a year when many folks are trying to simplify the constitutional restrictions. Amendment 52 simply adds to that problem.”

Local leaders on water issues also decried the amendment, including Dale Tooker, manager of the Clifton Water District, who said the measure will dry up funding for the Colorado Water Conservation Board and other water projects.

Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, one of Amendment 52’s lead proponents, cited Amendment 52’s support from former Congressman Scott McInnis, R-Colo., as a counterpoint to the news conference.

“Scott McInnis has done more on Western Slope water issues than all of us combined,” he said.

Penry added that the news conference simply underlines the do-nothing approach that has permeated transportation funding reform for years.

“You get a sense of why nothing ever gets done on transportation,” he said.


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