Despite the rhetoric and theater surrounding election season – and the political climate in general – across the region, state and country, at the end of the day, government's job is to do one thing: spend money to provide services to citizens.
Without dollars, such things that we all count on the government to do for us – run schools and prisons, maintain roads and ensure public safety, to name a few – would cease to function adequately.
The domino effect of decreasing funding at the top of the budgetary food chain can have devastating effects on lesser-known but equally important services. Three ballot initiatives that will face Colorado voters in November threaten both the top-tier state programs, and all the smaller functions that require state funding to function. To avoid such troubles, vote no on amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101.
Brewed in a climate of tea party naysayerdom, these ballot initiatives would individually and collectively strip the state and local governments of significant resources with which to meet service mandates. The combined effects of the three would be devastating to Colorado.
Amendment 60 would require school districts to cut property taxes in half by 2020, would repeal past local votes that exempted districts from limits set by the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, and would put restrictions on the length of all future such de-Brucing votes. The net effect of Amendment 60 would be to shift even more of the school funding burden to the state's general fund – a pot of money already overcommitted. Lesser-known departments such as human services, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and its various environmental enforcement agencies, would suffer dramatic cutbacks – to the detriment of the resources those agencies are charged with protecting.
Amendment 61 would prohibit the state from taking on any kind of debt – for cash flow, property, equipment, buildings – even from itself. This silliness would shanghai the state's ability to spread out the cost of improving – or even maintaining – essential infrastructure. It is utter nonsense that would do nothing to improve the delivery of government services and much to make those services even more difficult to provide.
Finally, there is Proposition 101, in part a knee-jerk reaction to last year's FASTER bill that increased motor vehicle registration fees to provide needed transportation funding. With the explicit goal of cutting state revenues, Proposition 101 would revert to old-timey pricing on a range of items including income tax, vehicle registration, tax and license fees, sales tax and telecommunications fees. The net effect on the state budget is estimated to be at least a $1.7 billion annual reduction. It is simply not possible to conduct the state's business in such a climate.
Taken together, these three initiatives would be nothing short of devastating for Colorado. Keeping the 30,000-foot perspective is essential in this election season: Saving a few bucks on renewing your license plates will mean a great many more losses for you and yours. Vote no on Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101.
firstname.lastname@example.org Megan Graham is director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.