July 16, 2008

Foes of Proposal to Kill Drilling Tax Credits Attack Ad

By Todd Hartman

Opponents of a measure to increase state revenues from oil and gas drilling are accusing the initiative's backers of misleading voters in a radio advertisement.

The ad's assertion, that Colorado is the only state still giving oil companies a tax credit, is untrue, said a spokesman for Coloradans for a Stable Economy, which opposes the measure.

Kansas and New Mexico offer "similar tax credits," opponents said in a press release Tuesday attacking the commercial. The group's spokesman, Dan Hopkins, called it "a deliberate attempt to mislead voters."

But a spokesman for A Smarter Colorado, the organization campaigning for elimination of a property tax credit for the oil and gas industry, scoffed at the criticism.

"No other state in the nation offers a tax break for oil and gas anywhere close to Colorado's $300 million subsidy," said George Merritt of A Smarter Colorado.

Merritt said New Mexico actually charges two severance taxes on industry, and gives a credit on only one of them, and "Kansas' break is not even 1/20th of the credit Colorado taxpayers give oil and gas."

"The only mistake is the opposition's attempt to compare Colorado's overwhelming oil and gas subsidy with other states," Merritt said.

The measure asks voters to kill a credit that allows drillers to deduct 87.5 percent of their property tax bill from the severance taxes paid to Colorado on minerals taken from the ground.

Originally published by Todd Hartman, Rocky Mountain News.

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