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Economic future hinges on November ballot.

THE COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF Commerce and Industry is calling on the statewide business community to support voter approval of the state budget referendum that was passed by the Colorado General Assembly in April.

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For its part, CACI will work hard for the passage of this referendum because it is critical to the future economic health of our state. We look forward to working with Gov. Bill Owens, the legislative leadership and other business organizations to pass this measure in November.

CACI commends the governor, House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and other key legislators for reaching a compromise on this proposal, and we also commend the senators and representatives who voted for HB-1194.

CACI is committed to educating its member businesses and their workers about what will happen to the state budget if the referendum is not passed by voters.

We anticipate that, if it is not approved, there will be serious cuts to, among other things, higher education as well as a continued lack of funding for construction and repair of our highways, roads and bridges.

According to legislative staff reports, the Colorado General Assembly is faced with cutting $561.5 million from the budget over the next five years, in addition to the $1.1 billion that was cut over the last four years.

Such cuts to our higher education system and the lack of investment in the state's highways and bridges will harm Colorado's economic climate and discourage business investment as well as the recruitment of new companies to our state.

The most important provisions of the budget proposal that will face the voters in November include:

* The state would keep the revenue that it is already collecting over a five-year-period rather than making refunds of revenues over the TABOR limits.

* In the sixth year, if the voters approve a bonded debt increase for projects, then the state would keep revenues in the amount of inflation plus population growth, which is the TABOR formula, plus $100 million.

In addition, the legislature will refer to the voters a companion measure that will provide for bonding for transportation and other capital projects that are sorely needed.

We are optimistic that Colorado voters will support a ballot measure that calls for retaining revenues above the TABOR limit--provided they understand that the additional revenue will go for specific programs and projects that they approve. This has been well demonstrated in previous "de-Brucing" elections at the local government level.

Consequently, the final weeks of the 2005 legislative session will see legislators and interest groups jockeying for position with bills that would allocate the additional revenue to transportation, health care and higher education. The session must adjourn by May 11. The final form of these proposals will be critical for CACI and the business community to convince the voters to approve the referendum.

CHUCK BERRY IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, THE STATE'S CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. BERRY WAS ELECTED TO THE COLORADO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN 1984. IN 1991, HE WAS ELECTED HOUSE SPEAKER, AND SERVED IN THAT ROLE THROUGH 1998.

FOLLOW CACI'S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA AT WWW.COCHAMBER.COM AND E-MAIL BERRY AT CACI@COCHAMBER.COM
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Author:Berry, Chuck
Publication:ColoradoBiz
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:May 1, 2005
Words:532
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