Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Colorado Supreme Court Asked to Rule on United Offer

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Colorado Supreme Court Asked to Rule on United Offer

Article excerpt

DENVER (AP) _ The Colorado Supreme Court is being asked to rule on the legality of legislation providing state incentives for a $1 billion United Airlines maintenance facility, Gov. Roy Romer's staff director announced Wednesday. Stewart Bliss, the governor's staff director, said United had asked for the procedure and that the attorney general's office had suggested it would be the fastest way to handle the proposal. The court received the request at the end of the work day, and the governor hopes for a decision today after the court's regular meeting, Stewart Bliss said at an impromptu news conference. Romer will not sign the legislation until he gets an indication from the Supreme Court or attorney general that the deal is legal. Oklahoma City, which is also in the running for the United facility, is offering a financial incentives package which includes a one-cent sales tax approved by Oklahoma County voters Feb. 26. The tax is expected to generate $120 million, which could grow to as much as $160 million depending upon retail spending in Oklahoma County over the 33- month period the tax would be in effect, and would be used as upfront money to help build the facility. This would lower the amount of bonds United would need to sell for construction, ultimately lowering the debt-service costs over the 30-year life of the bonds. Bliss and Barbara McDonnell, the Colorado governor's legal adviser, briefed reporters Wednesday on the decision to seek the interrogatories. Bliss said United Airlines had asked for the questions to be submitted, but he did not conclude from that request that United had accepted the state's incentive package proposal, worth an estimated $145 million-$150 million. "United did ask for it," he said. "That does not mean United has accepted it, or even that it will accept it." As for the court, Bliss continued, "There is no indication one way or the other. They (the justices) will set the schedule." United officials, who were not present while the bills were being debated last week, and have been silent about the proposal, could not be reached for comment. In the past several years the court has been reluctant to handle such issues from the Legislature or the governor's office, but it has done so occasionally. Romer, who was in Roanoke, Va., and not available for comment, had planned to submit House Bill 1005 and House Bill 1009 to Attorney General Gale Norton first. The bills were approved on Sunday after a six-day special legislative session called by the governor. During the session, supporters and opponents of the package had asked for the court to rule on their legality. …
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