'C' and 'D' stands for chase and deliver

Filed under: Opinion |

In November, voters will decide whether the state can keep surplus revenue and use the money for items such as education, transportation, etc., or should give the overage back to Colorado residents.

Two ballot initiatives outline what the state plans to do if it gets to keep the money.

Referendum C gives the state permission to retain all revenue collected between fiscal years 2005-06 and 2009-10. It also sets the Taxpayers Bill of Rights imposed cap on the state budget at the highest level reached during those five years.

The ballot measure says that surplus revenue will be divided as follows: 30 percent for K-12 schools, 30 percent for health care, 30 percent for higher education and 10 percent for repayment of Referendum D bonds.

Referendum D authorizes the state to issue bonds for the following: up to $1.7 billion for transportation, up to $175 million for fire and police pensions, up to $147 million to repair and maintain K-12 schools, and up to $50 million to repair higher education facilities.

We need to chase these referendums, and educate people so we can deliver a better Colorado in the future.

The Rocky Mountain News reported on July 15 that “if the voters say ‘yes’ in November the state will spend an extra $3.1 billion or so, depending on the fluctuations in the economy. If they say ‘no’ individual taxpayers will get refunds averaging $24 the first year, with refunds likely growing over the next four years.”

Well, I suppose I can give up $24 a year to help invest in our kids, our transportation systems and health care. From an economic point of view, C&D makes sense.

How about the adage that you need to spend money to make money?

Think about what attracts new business to our region. What are the motivators that would bring a major employer here?

I do not have to call the Economic Development Corp. to say that transportation, education and health care would be high on the list of attributes a relocating company would look at.

If C&D pass and the improvements are made, what could happen? Might Principal Financial, located in Des Moines, Iowa, decide to move its headquarters and work force to Colorado Springs? Might USAA decide to expand its offices here to the size of its San Antonio operation? And if we have more major corporations, what would happen to our tax base?

More companies, more people, more revenue is the way I see it.

Some people might argue that they do not trust our political leaders to spend the money as earmarked.

It’s a valid argument, especially with politicians whose allegiances may swing with the prevailing Colorado wind. But how about mandating some accountability? Set up a system that gives the politicos a report card every year.

I see report cards giving a neutral, pass or fail on each of the projects that receive C&D money. Holding politicians accountable…what a concept.

I think that Vic Andrews summed up the argument in favor of C&D quite well and quite concisely in an e-mail he sent to graduates of the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute program.

“It is an issue of vital importance to our community,” Andrews wrote. “We will be in a crisis starting in 2006 without it. It is not necessarily the best solution, but it is the only one on the table.”

I know I will be voting yes on C&D in November.

World’s largest retaining wall

Every day as I make my commute from Monument I pass a monstrosity.

I’m talking about the Briargate shopping center. I can’t figure out why the architects or the landscape designers situated a rather high-end shopping center so far from the highway that all you see is its rear end.

Why was it not set to provide a panoramic view of the mountains while you shop? It should have been turned around to provide a proud entry point to the Springs from Interstate 25. It should have provided better views. And it should have been built utilizing the topography of the region, not strapping the thing into the hill using retaining blocks.

Did someone have a brother in the retaining block business? How many retaining blocks did it take to hold up the rear end of Briargate? Maybe Briargate could do a guess the number of retaining blocks and win a $500 shopping spree promotion.

OK I am asking more questions than I am answering, but this is my column and I can do that.

Maybe the folks over at Experience Colorado Springs (you know the former convention and visitors bureau) could market the Springs with this catchphrase: “Come see the world’s largest retaining wall.” Hey, if people will go see the world’s largest ball of string or Cadillacs buried by the roadside or other such oddities, the wall could be a pull.

We could set up a viewing area the same as the one by the Air Force Academy for people to look at the bricks. Families could have their pictures taken with the wall behind them…we may even need to set up some extra security because some evil doer may target the wall.

Maybe we should earmark some of the C&D money to turn Briargate 180 degrees.

Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at lon.matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.