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Formal opposition to Referendum A announced

DENVER—Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) today joined its other Vote NO on A Coalition partners at a news conference in Confluence Park to launch the coalition. The theme is “Referendum A is a blank check and should be opposed by Colorado voters.”

“Following careful study of the provisions in Referendum A, Farmers Union’s leadership has concluded that the measure would do little to help agricultural producers, and, in some cases, it would be harmful to them and their rural communities,” said John Stencel, RMFU president and member of the Vote NO on A Coalition Executive Committee.

Referendum A is a measure that asks Colorado voters to approve up to a $4 billion increase (including principal and interest) to the state’s debt in order to authorize the Colorado Water Conservation Board to issue revenue bonds for the construction of water projects. Opponents, like RMFU, believe it is nothing more than a way to allow developers to speculate with Colorado’s water future. “The minimum project size of $5 million along with no funding for feasibility studies makes it impossible for small municipalities or farm irrigation water projects to participate,” said Stencel. “Referendum A would allow developers to by-pass the normal voter approval of bond issues to fund projects and then force users to pay back the bonds through additional assessments and higher water fees. It’s like the taxation without representation that caused the Boston Tea revolt over 200 years ago!”

According to RMFU, current programs already allow for voter-approved bonds to be used to improve water storage facilities at any funding level. Referendum A merely creates a “blank-check” for unspecified water projects.

“Compounding this problem is the fact that Referendum A does not provide for basin of origin mitigation,” said Stencel. “The referendum needs to require just and equitable compensation and compensatory water storage to the basins of origin.”

“We also find it problematic that Referendum A reduces local control over water projects and the financing of such projects,” Stencel said.

“Referendum A may make the measure’s proponents feel they have addressed drought in Colorado by referring this $4 billion program to the voters, but it will not help agriculture, and it could price agricultural producers right out of their water.”

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