Thursday, April 10, 2008


Schwartz Steers Landmark
Measure Through Committee

DENVER—Today the Senate Education Committee approved a measure to create a rainy day fund and ongoing funds dedicated to higher education and local communities most impacted by oil and gas drilling in Colorado.

Sponsored by Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) and Representative Bernie Buescher (D-Grand Junction), the bill would set aside money from the state’s energy boom to create lasting funds for Colorado’s future.

The proposed measure:
Directs more than $1 billion to communities impacted by oil and gas drilling over the next 10 years.
Designates more than $650 million in future Federal Mineral Lease revenue to capital construction projects at colleges and universities.
Creates a rainy day fund by depositing half of any future lease bonus payments into a newly created Higher Education Maintenance and Reserve Fund. Interest from this fund will pay for higher education projects. In the case of a recession, this fund could be tapped to ensure higher education operating budgets are protected.
Deposits the other half of any future bonus payments into local government permanent fund for impacted communities.
Directs more than $700 million to K-12 education and more than $150 million to the Colorado Water Conservation.

“We are standing on the cusp of an enormous opportunity to set aside money from our state's energy boom and to create lasting funds to address Colorado’s future needs in the event of an economic downturn,” said Schwartz. “We have worked hard on this bill to ensure that the outcomes will be beneficial to all stakeholders.”

The bill moves next to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.