by David Tesitor
WALSENBURG- Three members of the Colorado House and Senate took the Republican platform on a statewide road show, with a stop in Walsenburg on October 18. Their bus featured a banner, saying “Save Don’t Spend.” State Representatives Corey Gardner of Yuma and Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch, along with State Senator Mike Kopp of Jefferson County spoke to the crowd of three dozen citizens in this impromptu, non-scheduled stop.
Kopp is the Minority Caucus Chairman of the Senate. He told the Journal, “Now is not the time to spend every red cent. We need to encourage fiscal responsibility and transparency.” Corey Gardner stated, “We need to be stewards of your tax dollars.”
Money seemed to be their theme. Senator Kopp said the party is concerned “with the reckless government spending.” Kopp was concerned about a bill which he predicted would cause health insurance companies to raise their rates. He also listed other concerns. “The Republican leaders in the Senate created a $15 million Rainy Day Fund for emergencies. By the time it got to the floor for a vote, Governor Ritter pulled the plug.” The group also spoke about the budget. Last year’s budget was over 660 pages, and the book which explains the budget came in at over 180 pages. They said “it is almost impossible to get your hands on a copy.” That is why they would support the notion of putting the budget online. Kopp said, “Everyone can then see where the tax dollars are going.” According to these legislators, the state of Colorado is over $100 million dollars in the red.
These state leaders wanted to drum up support for candidates Ken Torres and Randy Jackson who are locals running for the legislature. They spent yesterday in Alamosa for Jackson before spending the night in Walsenburg.
Another hot topic of discussion was the topic of Pinon Canyon. Land owner A.R. Garza-Vela spoke out in favor of the development stating the “government does not have enough land to train our military. I want to be sure if you stick guns in the hand of soldiers, they are equipped to use them.” Others in the crowd echoed his sentiment. The majority however was against any expansion.
The final discussion came when Dick Chenault asked about funding for the I-70 corridor and what benefit it provides to the citizens south of Colorado Springs. Amendment 52, if approved by voters, would increase severance taxes on oil and gas extraction and spend it primarily on the I-70 corridor. With representatives from southern and rural Colorado on the Transportation Committee, “our voices should be heard,” Gardner said.
The gathering was informative, and everyone in attendance agreed we need to learn the issues when it comes to our state election. The ballot is the longest in our history and what is going on in Colorado should not be overshadowed by the national political arena. The Republican Road Show continued onto Colorado Springs after their stop here.