Ritter takes off the gloves with new Amendment 58 ad

Gov. Bill Ritter’s office stepped up the intensity of the Amendment 58 debate Thursday, sending out a signed e-mail touting A Smarter Colorado’s new television ad and asking voters to share it with friends in a bid to end the state’s “outdated tax subsidy for oil and gas companies.”

The new ad is clearly is in response to attack ads that began airing last week calling Ritter out for misleading voters by “calling a $321 million tax hike a subsidy – that’s the real scandal.” In fact, A Smarter Colorado all along has contended that 58 merely rolls back property tax exemptions granted to the industry in the 1970s, when the state was trying desperately to promote drilling. Now companies can’t secure leases fast enough.

By repeating the “it’s the real scandal” tagline throughout the ad, the anti-58 issues committee Coloradans for a Stable Economy — which has raised a record $10.3 million from oil and gas companies — was trying to defuse a different pro-58 ad that began running last week and tied the industry to a U.S. Interior Department drug and sex scandal involving industry officials.

“Amendment 58 won’t increase your taxes,” the latest pro-58 ad states. “It will make sure oil companies pay theirs.” In his mass e-mail, Ritter points out that “While oil and gas producers pay an overall effective [tax] rate of 11.2 percent in Wyoming and 9.4 percent in New Mexico, they pay just 5.7 percent in Colorado,” according to the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Council.

Many analysts agree that any increase in taxes paid by the industry in Colorado will not be felt in Colorado, since the oil and gas produced here goes into the nation’s overall energy supply.

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