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Amendments 60, 61 & Proposition 101 create controversy

by Larry Patrick

COLORADO– It appears to be a battle of David and Goliath.  Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101 appear to be about the little guy who is being unfairly taxed by a government that spends recklessly.

    Not since Doug Bruce got his Tabor Amendment adopted back in the 1990’s in Colorado have any proposals put more of a scare into local and state government than do Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101.  When you read the official state-approved ballot titles, they seem like a good thing for the taxpayers.  The question is, are they really?  Even Doug Bruce has not endorsed 60, 61 and 101.

    There are many claims made on various websites supporting these issues (COtaxreforms.com).  Claims are made that passage will not cost schools one dollar and will create jobs.  Opponents say there is no supporting evidence for such claims.  Local and state officials will tell you that passage of these proposals will create a “voter-approved recession” that will definitely cost more jobs than it would create.

    Proponents of the measure claim that school districts will not suffer because the state is required by law to provide 100% of school tax revenue.  What they don’t say is what other services to citizens will have to be drastically cut if the state were forced to do this.  Already, cities and towns are making cuts in police, fire, parks and libraries because they lack dollars, and city and county officials say it is hard to find a lot of waste in local government right now. 

    The independent Bell Policy Center says Proposition 101 would cut revenue to Huerfano County from $183,000 down to $3,800 per year.  Following are some possible consequences:  loss of jobs;  cuts in city services; skyrocketing water; sewer and gas fees to provide necessary health and safety services; closure  or reduced hours for city office; little or no maintenance of roads.     

    Local government entities will have to put together two or three different annual budget proposals this year to project consequences if these ballot issues pass or fail in November.  Some may have drafts prepared prior to the election to demonstrate exactly what voters will have to face if these ballot issues do pass.

    We all get suspicious of government and how it spends our money.  The proponents rally behind the rhetoric of our forefathers and rail against taxes and government spending. They say, “Limit debt, cut taxes and reform property taxes.”  On the other hand,  local officials are  telling anyone who will listen, that 60, 61 and 101 will hurt citizens in ways that are not being considered by proponents.  Those against 60, 61 and 101 will say “If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”

    Voters will have to decide if their neighbors who make up the city councils, county commissions, school boards, libraries, hospital, police and fire in their communities are really Goliath, trying to take advantage of them, or David, striving to give local citizens the best services they can with the dollars they have to spend.  The answer is coming in November from those who exercise their right to vote.