No on 46: Civil Rights Initiative
This would prohibit preferential treatment based on race or gender in hiring, contracting and public education, effectively ending affirmative action in the state. Let’s be honest, affirmative action plays a small role in state hiring and public education. But that tiny role is an important role. While intentions of this amendment are grand, it would hurt more than help. Take the state’s colleges. One of the top complaints we hear from the state’s flagship, the University of Colorado, is that there is a lack of diversity on campus. Voting YES on 46 would make it even more difficult to lure students from diverse backgrounds, and that’s not a good thing.
Just Say No: All of the union vs. business items (47, 49, 53, 54, 55, 56 and 57)
For the record, four of these are anti-business, three are anti-union and none have any business being on the ballot. Starting with the union negotiations for the Democratic National Convention, the union non-issue in Colorado became an issue for no other reason than political bad will.
Remember, only eight percent of the state’s workforce is unionized, yet millions of dollars have been spent in a brutal campaign for all of them as business and labor unions have fought over issues such as becoming a right to work state and requiring employers to provide health insurance. When you actually get around to voting, only three will be counted. Contentious negotiations were able to pull four of the anti-business amendments—53, 55, 56 and 57—off the ballot at the last minute (since ballots are already printed, the four remain but votes won’t count). But a few stubborn anti-union backers refused to take their remaining three off the ballot.
Here’s a rundown:
• Forty-seven will make Colorado a right to work state, meaning workers would not be required to pay union dues. This would weaken the state’s already anemic unions and do nothing to attract new business to Colorado. There are much more important issues in luring and keeping business in Colorado.
• Forty-nine would prevent governments from collecting union dues from employee paychecks. Other than to anger union leaders, we’re not sure what this would actually accomplish.
• Amendment 54 will become a boondoggle, plain and simple. On its surface, it sounds fine. It would prohibit entities that receive no-bid contracts from contributing to the campaigns of those who grant the contracts. They’re calling it the “clean government” bill. But the specifics of this amendment are greyer than the San Francisco skyline. This prohibition would include companies, unions and their officers—including their relatives —from making campaign contributions to a candidate or political party if they have been awarded a no-bid contract by either the state or a local government. Save everyone the trouble of years of litigation and just strike this down now.
Saying no to all three will also send a message that labor groups and businesses need to work out their issues on their time, not ours.
No on 48: Personhood
Let’s forget about the scientific definition of a person for a moment and discuss the ramifications of this measure if it succeeds. Amendment 48 would essentially define a person as a human being at the moment the sperm hits the egg. That means a fertilized egg would have the same rights as you. That means the morning after pill may become illegal. That means certain forms of contraception would be illegal. That means a lengthy list of bizarre scenarios fit for a John Grisham novel could result. That means the thousands of references to a person in state law books would be redefined.
That means our constitution would contradict Roe v. Wade. Even if this passes it will likely be challenged, successfully, in higher courts. Then there’s the science, which defines a being much later in the process. Let’s call 48 what it is: a nefarious attempt to impose a small group’s religious doctrine on the entire state while criminalizing abortion by muddying our constitution.
Yes on L: Age Qualification for Serving in the General Assembly
If you can legally drive a car, vote, drink a beer and serve in the military, you should be allowed to run for state office. Who’s to say a 21-year-old cannot be as effective as a 25-year-old on Capitol Hill (25 is the current age minimum)? Not us.
Yes Referendums M & N: Elimination of Obsolete Constitutional Provisions
Just cleaning up redundancies, which is ever so important with our constitution becoming such a lengthy document.
Yes on Referendum O: Initiative Petition Requirements
Colorado is a great state because if you don’t like something, you can go out and gather enough signatures to place your idea of what the law should be up to a vote of the people. The one problem is that by making it so easy to amend our constitution, undoing outdated, ineffective or just plain bad changes is next to impossible. At one point this year, there were 14 constitutional amendments on the ballot—that’s just plan nuts. Referendum O keeps the spirit of citizen change alive by making it easier to get a state statute to the ballot (which is a little easier to tweak down the line) while making constitutional amendments more difficult to bring to a vote. It’s a win-win for Colorado’s voters.
Yes on 50: Limited Gaming
We see very little harm in allowing the gambling communities of Colorado to be able to add more games, extend casino hours and raise stakes to a $100 maximum. Currently, you can only bet $5 in Central City, Blackhawk and Cripple Creek; this measure allows voters of these communities to change that. Upon approval of this amendment, funding for education will spike as 78 percent of gaming tax revenue would go toward financial aid and classroom help for the state’s community college system. This could also provide a boom to these dusty mountain communities, luring gamblers wanting to spill their deep pockets at the black jack table. Not to mention that it give the voters of these towns the power to make these decisions, not state lawmakers or voters from communities far, far away.
Yes on 51: State Sales Tax for Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
This is simple. Spend an extra penny on every $5 of purchases now, and save boatloads of money down the road. This sales tax increase would provide $186.1 million annually to provide funding for long-term services for those with developmental disabilities. Expanding help to people in need now will reduce the dependency of the developmentally disabled down the road, thus saving taxpayer money in the long run.
No on 52: Severance Tax—Transportation
We need more money for transportation, especially to help with the litany of projects along the I-70 corridor. But robbing water projects to pave roads is not the way to solve our problems. There is a finite pool of money available for all the state’s needs: road projects, education, water, you name it. This amendment would divert future severance tax revenues away from state and local water projects to earmarked highway projects mostly on Interstate 70. Moving money from one pool to another, as 52 hopes to do, solves one problem while hurting another—and ties it into the state’s constitution, making it difficult to change in the future. We’re all for finding more money for transit projects, but we have too many constitutional amendments already hamstringing our spending (that whole TABOR thing). Vote no on this, and then pick a state legislator who wants to make it a priority next session to find more funding for road projects without hurting other programs.
Yes on 58: Gas and Oil Severance Tax
This is not a tax. Repeat, this is not a tax. This repeals a credit that saves oil and gas companies hundreds of millions annually and puts our tax rate in line with neighboring states. Currently, oil and gas companies can write off property tax to reduce their severance tax, which is 5 percent—the write off drops that to about 1.3 percent, way below what it costs to do business in New Mexico and Wyoming. By taking away this break, the state would get a surplus of $300 million each year that would be earmarked toward higher education, outdoor programs, and community road and water projects. And don’t be scared by the claims that this will result in skyrocketing gas prices at the pump. Our pumps aren’t filled with oil pumped from Colorado—natural gas is king here, and to think that $300 million spread across the balance sheets of the major international oil and gas companies that produce billions of dollars in profits will be passed on to you is naïve.
Yes on 59: Education Funding
Good grief, can we finally start really fixing TABOR problems? Yes, yes we can. We’ve had to live with TABOR for a decade, and it has hurt Colorado. The basics behind the Taxpayer Bill of Rights goes something like this: If there is excess revenue collected through taxes, the state must return it to the voters instead of spending in areas such as transportation and education and social services. This led to a drop in funding for all these areas over the years, especially public education. So voters in 2000 approved Amendment 23, which required fixed spending increases for education; a good intention with unintended consequences. The state is now further squeezed in other areas of the budget. And along comes 59, an amendment that will attempt to fix the problem yet again. While not perfect, it is the right step toward freeing ourselves of the restraints of TABOR and the problems of 23. First, the proposal repeals the contradictory portions of Amendment 23, while at the same time eliminating the TABOR spending cap. Instead of refunding excess revenues, the state will drop it in a rainy-day fund for education and continue to make public educating funding a top priority. Virtually anyone you’ll come across—red, blue or green—will tell you that funding education in Colorado, which lags on a national scale, is a necessity. This is a great start.