Anti-Fossil Fuel Group’s Pick, Andrew Romanoff, Touts School Investments Backed By Oil And Gas
A national group’s endorsement of former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s primary opponent in the Colorado Senate Democratic primary could prove a source of irritation based on the candidate’s continued promotion of and reliance on fossil fuels to back education investment and construction in the state, according to analysis by Western Wire.
The Sunrise Movement, which opposes fossil fuel development and is the source of the proposed ‘Green New Deal,’ has backed former state legislator and Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff in his bid to deny the 2020 nomination to Hickenlooper. Instead, they view Hickenlooper, who bowed out of his presidential bid earlier in the year, as too “dangerous” on climate issues including natural resource development to compete against U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, the Republican incumbent.
In his own campaign efforts, Romanoff bragged in early November about teaming with former Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, to build a plan to help the state emerge from recession, including schools.
He even features the claim on his campaign website.
“He crafted an economic recovery plan to put thousands of Coloradans back to work, built a bipartisan coalition to pass it, and secured the largest investment in school construction in state history,” Romanoff’s site proclaims.
This echoes his 2010 stump speeches featuring the disparity in education funding between Denver and rural parts of the state, which were severely underfunded, he said. To bolster spending, Romanoff helped to push the BEST Act–”Building Excellent Schools Today Act”–using trust money and lottery revenue.
The large majority of the trust fund Romanoff leaned on for funding, around 80 percent, comes from oil and gas revenues, according to a video from the Colorado State Land Board “about how oil and gas leases on trust lands have earned nearly a $1 billion for Colorado’s public schools.”
“The first part of that mission is to generate revenue for Colorado school kids, using the land and resources that were given to us at statehood … Approximately 80% of the revenues generated by the Colorado State Land Board come from oil and gas. That amounts to about $1 billion over the last 10 years. … The State Land Board serves as the primary funding source for the BEST program,” the 2018 Department of Natural Resources and Land Board video touts.
Most of the revenues generated by the trust via oil and gas income is used for rural school construction, which traditionally have much smaller tax bases than their urban counterparts, the Land Board video added.
In addition, a recent Common Sense Policy Roundtable report outlined the potential lost revenue for educational investment if local communities along the state’s Front Range, including some of its largest municipalities, enact policies that curtail oil and gas production. The group estimated between $822 million and $1.1 billion in additional revenues over the next decade could be missed if such policies occur.
This is not Romanoff’s first Senate run, as he unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010, after Bennet was tapped to fill out the term for former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, who was elevated to Secretary of the Interior in President Barack Obama’s first term.