AGO 90-10.

Case Date:August 31, 1990
Colorado Attorney General Opinions 1990. AGO 90-10. STATE OF COLORADO OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FORMAL OPINION OF DUANE WOODARD Attorney General Opinion No. 90-10 AG Alpha No. EX AD AGARQ August 31, 1990The Honorable Roy Romer Governor State of Colorado Colorado State Capitol Denver, CO 80203 RE: Taxes Imposed on the Sale of Aviation FuelDear Governor Romer: This opinion letter responds to your April 26, 1990 inquiry about the use of proceeds from taxes imposed upon the sale of aviation fuel. QUESTION PRESENTED AND CONCLUSION May proceeds from excise taxes imposed upon aviation fuel be used for purposes other than aviation? No. ANALYSIS Prior to 1974, Colo. Const. art. X, Section 18 required that all revenues from excise taxes on gasoline or other liquid motor fuel be used only for public highway purposes. This requirement obviously applied to all excise taxes on aviation fuel. In 1974, the citizens of Colorado passed a constitutional amendment which removed the proceeds from taxes on aviation fuel from the Highway Users Tax Fund. The amendment provides in relevant part: Any taxes imposed upon aviation fuel shall be used exclusively for aviation purposes. This language was added to rectify an inequity. Fuel taxes in Colorado are based on a user benefit theory. The people who pay taxes for certain types of governmental services should also reap the benefits of those services. Prior to the 1974 amendment, taxes levied on aviation fuel could be used only for highways. As a result, the taxes on aviation fuel did not confer any benefit on those who paid the taxes. The amendment rectified this inequity. See 1974 Legislative Council of Colorado General Assembly, Research Pub. 206 at 19. Where the language of the Constitution is plain and its meaning clear, that language must be declared and enforced as written. Colorado Ass'n of Public Employees v. Lamm, 677 P.2d 1350, 1353 (Colo. 1984). "When the wording of the constitutional provision is not overburdened with confusion or ambiguity, efforts to apply various rules of construction to obtain a different meaning are without justification." In Re Interrogatory of the House of Representatives, 177 Colo. 215, 217, 493 P.2d 346, 348 (1972); Colorado State Civil Service Emp. Ass'n v. Love, 167 Colo. 436, 448 P.2d 624 (1968). The language of the Constitution is clear and...

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