RANGELY I Colorado Republican House District 57 Representative Bob Rankin and his wife, Republican State Education Board Member Joyce Rankin, held a small town hall style meeting in Rangely Tuesday night. The informal and sparsely attended meeting covered a wide variety of topics including education, severance taxes, transportation funding and climate change.
Bob Rankin, who currently sits on the Joint Budget Committee and has been the area representative for almost six years, said he “might run again.” Rankin began his update by informing the audience that the state currently spends $29 billion per year, $12 billion of which comes from tax funding. Rankin said that outside the tax funding there is not much flexibility on spending.
Rankin lamented the limited severance tax funds that are returned to the area. He pointed out that northwest Colorado contributes the most money to the fund but doesn’t receive enough back. “We are getting ripped off,” he said. Currently severance taxes average $180 million per year. While some of those funds make it back to impacted communities the rest goes to the state general fund and Department of Local Affairs. Rankin described himself as the “lone voice” on the issue.
For the coming fiscal year Rankin said he sees more money going towards transportation and education. The state will be leasing buildings to help fund the transportation department, which he says needs an additional $1 billion annually to keep up with needed work. The education sector will also see more funding, as the coming year will be the first year marijuana sales tax funding reaches education coffers.
Rankin was asked about a recent executive order signed by Governor Hickenlooper which would limit green house gas emissions, but could have a big negative impact on energy-based communities. While Rankin said he had not yet read the order he was unsure that the Governor would have the legitimate power to write such an order. He added that if Jared Polis (a Democrat who has announced his bid for governor) is elected, “we’re toast.”
He was also asked about potentially privatizing or issuing a concession contract for state parks allowing a private company to manage them while the state would retain ownership. Rankin seemed interested in the possibility of such a plan which could provide funding relief to the parks which have faced numerous budget woes.
Joyce Rankin of the State Education Board also provided a short update as well. She reminded the audience that Colorado is a local control state and that education makes up the second largest expense in the state. According to the Colorado Department of Education the Rangely School District receives $10,800 per student annually, which is about average with national funding levels.
She stated that she is hopeful that Colorado will eventually pull out of Common Core. Colorado is one of only 11 states still participating in the federal program.
The Rankins will be in Meeker for a similar town hall meeting on Thursday.