Roberts fights to keep oil and gas taxes in areas most impacted by drilling

Durango Republican state Sen. Ellen Roberts is fighting hard to keep oil and gas severance taxes from going to K-12 education statewide, but, according to the Durango Herald, it’s likely a losing battle.

Roberts, with the backing of local politicians and officials in gas-patch areas of the Western Slope – especially Southwest Colorado – introduced a bill (SB 35) that would block the State Legislature from continuing to raid severance tax funds.

Four savings accounts set aside for local governments in the areas of the state hardest hit by oil and gas drilling have been raided by the Legislature to the tune of $235 million the past three year, according to the Herald, and Roberts wants to stop that practice — even if it means bigger cuts elsewhere.

“My focus is roads, highways, sewage treatment plants,” Roberts said. “We have natural gas trucks going 65 mph with school buses stopping on small state highways.”

Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, stuck SB 35 to the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, which the Herald says is often where unwanted bills go to die. That could happen as soon as today, but a similar bill (HB 1123) by Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, still has a shot in the House.

Shaffer, however, has vowed to do all he can to protect K-12 education statewide – given that schools are already facing a second straight year of more than $200 million in cuts.

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