The 2010 election is bringing a few of the most important issues to the state of Colorado. Many organizations, politicians and locals are rallying against Amendments 60 and 61 as well as Proposition 101.
Amendment 60, 61 and Proposition 101 are proposed tax reliefs to Colorado with claims that Colorado is overtaxed and wasteful. These three amendments are put forward with the idea of eliminating the state deficit completely. However, at the risk of dissolving the state debt, it also would eliminate tens of thousands of jobs and cut out valuable school funding everywhere.
Amendment 60 focuses on property tax and proposes to limit how property taxes are raised. This will cut local school property taxes by fifty percent. This in turn cuts school budgets by fifty percent. Marty Neilson, President of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers says, “These schools need to perform a bit better and do it on the funds they have…It’s our general belief that the state of Colorado has enough money to spend. They can spend it more wisely, or even cut their spending.” Denver Public Schools have received budget cuts numerous times in the past, which has only made it more difficult for teachers to educate students with scarce resources.
Colorado citizens who are supposed to be exempt from the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) effects will no longer receive the privilege that they voted for. Mill levies will be reduced by election but will be cut in half by 2020. All tax relief will then be replaced by state aid.
Amendment 61 prohibits the state of Colorado from borrowing money and prohibits future borrowing in any form by the state government. All capital expenses will be paid with cash upfront and schools that borrow interest-free loans will be prohibited. Any future borrowing of money by the local government will require voter approval, which will back up any needed funds. When certain borrowings are fully paid off, taxes associated with it will be reduced.
This eliminates Colorado’s options to build and expand important community features such as hospitals, roads, schools, fire stations, college buildings, water and sewer systems, Light Rail, prisons and more because of the severe limitation it was have on government bonds. Local districts that obtain loans will have to pay them back in ten years instead of the normal twenty years. The requirement to quickly pay back loans will not attract investors to build any schools, fire stations, water projects or health facilities.
Proposition 101 seeks to cut over $2 billion in car fees, income tax and phone bill rates. The biggest change will be the reduction of the annual vehicle registration fee, license and title charges to $10. The last time it was $10 was in 1919 when Colorado only had a few paved roads to maintain and having a car was a luxury. This will eliminate major funding for bridge and road construction efforts. The Colorado Department of Transportation estimates that this will cut out $277 million, or a quarter of their annual revenue.
The Specific Ownership Tax on cars will be reduced to $2 on new cars and $1 on used cars, severely cutting back on school funding and local government priorities of approximately $500 million per year.
In addition, the State Income tax is currently at 4.63%. It will be lowered to 4.5% and then phased down to 3.5%
Denver Democrat Mayor John Hickenlooper, former Republican Congressman Scott McInnis and Gov. Bill Ritter stand in opposition to Amendment 61, Amendment 60 and Proposition 101.
Local Denver police officers and fire fighters are already being forewarned that they will lose their jobs if Amendment 60, 61 and Proposition 101 are passed. Approximately 70,000 jobs will be lost with more than half from private businesses alone while the rest from public service functions in both state and local government. Pink slips will be given to at least 80,000 teachers resulting in larger classroom sizes and Colorado college tuition rates will spike even more.
On the plus side, if Amendment 60, Amendment 61 and Proposition 101 are passed, Colorado will soon be debt-free.