Details and dangers of Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101 discussed at community forum

by Collin Lessing, JVA Consulting

On October 18, the Young Nonprofit Professional Network (YNPN) Denver hosted Beer and Ballots—an event that looked at both sides of some of the biggest issues facing Colorado voters. The fast-paced event took place at the beautiful Su Teatro theater on Santa Fe Drive and gave speakers just five minutes to tell the audience why they, or the amendments or propositions they were representing, deserve the votes of the young and energetic audience. The audience in turn, was invited to ask the questions that might be deciding factors in the votes.

From the perspective of an attendee, Beer and Ballots was a successful event. We, the members of the community, were given the chance to listen to both sides of the story in a respectful and fun setting. The intimate nature of Su Teatro’s new location at the Denver Civic Theatre was welcoming and accessible for those who wanted to approach the microphone for a question. Those who weren’t comfortable or didn’t get a chance to ask their question in front of the audience could approach the candidates and representatives after the talk, or even approach them in the lobby and have their question addressed over a beer and a slice of pizza.

The information shared by presenters at the forum also reinforced the stance that JVA Consulting has taken concerning Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101. As an organization, JVA is opposed to the ballot initiatives many Coloradans are calling the “Bad 3.”

The 2010 State Ballot Information Book gives the following summary information on Amendment 60, Amendment 61 and Proposition 101:

Amendment 60 changes several aspects of Colorado’s property tax system to reduce the amount of property taxes paid by individuals and businesses to school districts, counties, special districts, cities and towns. The measure phases in a reduction in school district property taxes over ten years and requires that the reduced property taxes be replaced with state funding.

Amendment 61 places new restrictions on government borrowing.  Currently, the state and local governments borrow money to build or improve public facilities like roads, buildings and airports and repay the money over multiple years.  Borrowing is also used for other purposes, such as financing loans for small businesses.

Proposition 101 reduces or eliminates various taxes and fees on income, vehicles and telecommunication services.

Phil Fox, who was representing the Coloradans for Responsible Reform, was given ten minutes to speak about 60, 61 and 101.

Noting that no representatives had shown up to speak in favor of the amendments and proposition, Fox said, “There’s a reason why the proponents don’t come out to debate these.” Speaking to the widespread opposition to these measures, he added, “Every newspaper has come out in opposition to these—the Denver Post referred to them as the ‘Armageddon amendments.’”

According to Fox, Proposition 101 can be expected to:

  • Reduce income tax by $1.2 billion
  • Cut $500 million to local schools and other local revenue
  • Cut $375 million to state and local road and bridge funds
  • Lead to the possible loss of $535 million in federal Medicaid funding

Amendment 60 includes the following changes to the property tax policy:

  • A 50 percent reduction in state school district levies—an approximate $1.2 billion current year equivalent.
  • Requires enterprises and authorities to pay property taxes.
  • Repeals local tax de-Brucings—taking away local voter decisions about taxing
  • Limits future property tax increases to 10 years

Amendment 61 will:

  • Prohibit all levels and divisions of government from bonding, lease-purchase, revenue anticipation, even if they have the authority to do so
  • Exceptions limit voter-approved borrowing to a maximum of ten years
  • Prohibit the state of Colorado from borrowing
  • Changes local borrowing limits to a fraction of the currently allowed maximums

Fox went on the explain that that the “Armageddon amendments” could lead to more than 70,000 lost jobs in Colorado schools, government, health care and other areas, losses in budget that approach 50 percent for some school districts, and a $6 billion deficit—leaving Colorado with crippled state of education, economic development and social services.

Fox wrapped up his ten minutes by telling the audience, “Don’t hurt Colorado. Vote against Amendment 60, Amendment 61 and Proposition 101.”

To learn more about Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101, visit www.donthurtcolorado.com.

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