Ballot Issues 2020

A few folks have asked my thoughts on Coloradoís bountiful ballot proposals. Iíve selected a few for comment. Stop now if you have no interest.

Colorado

Prop EE: Taxes On Nicotine Products. YES

This is a classic sin tax (tobacco and vaping) with the money going to childrenís health care and education. As an additional benefit increased cost tends to reduce usage, reducing the health care costs we all somehow seem to end up paying.

Prop 115: Prohibit Abortions After 22 Weeks. NO

A woman or couple finding out about a deformed, un-viable fetus after 22 weeks is dealing with enough pain. Society saying you must carry to term is just piling on.

Prop 116: State Income Tax Rate Reduction. NO

Colorado dramatically underfunds education. At one time we aspired to get our funding up to the middle of the 50 states, but weíre not remotely close. Paying taxes isnít fun, but cutting education is seriously counter-productive.

Prop 117: Vote on Enterprises. NO

I already spend enough time analyzing ballot proposals. I just donít need more of this stuff.

Amd. B. Repeal Gallagher. NO

Gallagher creates problems. Killing it creates bigger problems. We adopted Gallagher to avoid a 1980ís California style home property tax revolt. Simply eliminating Gallagher puts that sort of revolt back in play.

Today, commercial property is taxed at 4.5 times the rate of residential property. Colorado has a lot of entities with property tax revenue: 64 counties, 178 school districts, hundreds of municipalities, thousands of special districts. Each has a different residential / commercial property mix. The largest, e.g. Denver, Jeffco, Colo. Springs, set the average, so the resulting Gallagher adjustment fits their situation close enough. Those with heavy commercial property to tax, e.g. oil wealthy Rio Blanco, would do well without Gallagher, but do even better with it. Those with minimal commercial property, e.g., lots of rural special districts, could theoretically vote to jack up their mill levy, but would basically destroy the little bit commercial property they do have.

Rather than eliminate Gallagher, itís time to adopt an individual Gallagher rate for each of Coloradoís 64 counties. Skyrocketing residential prices in the urban front range and ski towns will no longer drown rural special districts. Rejecting Amendment B tells the legislature to come back with a more nuanced proposal.

Amd. 76. Citizenship. NO

Today a kid whoíll be 18 in time to vote in the general election is allowed to vote in that yearís primary. Amd. 76 kicks the kid out of the primary. Dumb.

Amd. 77. Raise Slots Limits. NO

Today we have a $100 limit on slots and table games in Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City. With the formality of a local vote Amd. 77 blows up the limit. This year weíre just getting the hang of legal sports betting. Letís take at least one or two breaths before we jump on board with Macau and Atlantic City.

Denver

2B. Sales tax increase to fund services for people experiencing homelessness. YES

People experience homelessness. We see it every day. Ignoring it hasnít worked well. I donít like jacking up our regressive sales tax, but we donít have a lot of choice.

2C. Letting city council procure professional services. YES

Given my legislative experience, I donít see how City Council has functioned without these resources.

2E. Giving city council some say in mayoral appointments. No

2G. Giving city council more control of the budget. No

I like the strong mayor form of government and see no evidence that involving City Council gives better results than holding the Mayor accountable.

2H. High-speed internet. YES

Todayís two weak choices, Comcast and Century Link, need to up their game. This is the only way to make it happen.

2J. Allowing pit bulls. YES

Iíve never been fond of racial or breed stereotyping.

4A. Increasing property taxes for teacher raises. YES

4B. Borrowing money for DPS maintenance. YES

Our schools are underfunded. This helps a little.