You won’t find a candidate for governor, the US Senate, or the General Assembly on the November ballot, but Colorado voters will have a list of financial decisions to make, some cities much more than others.
The off-year elections in Colorado are mostly preserved for how voters want their tax dollars spent on top of other heavy political decisions. Ballots for the November 2 election have been mailed starting October 8, and local clerks will have until November 12 to complete the tabulations, once military and other ballots are in play.
Here’s what Colorado voters will find on their ballot, in addition to local metrics:
The measure creates the Learning enrichment and academic advancement program (LEAP), intended to provide financial assistance to eligible Colorado youth (ages 5-17) for ‘out-of-school learning’, such as one-to-one tuition, targeted assistance for people with special needs, training in second language, additional support materials, career and technical teacher training programs, socio-emotional learning and mental health services.
The program would fall under a new state agency, the Colorado Learning Authority, which would escape the oversight of the state Board of Education and the Department of Education. Instead, LEAP would be run by a nine-member board appointed by the governor.
Here’s the kicker: recreational marijuana users will foot the bill.
Currently, the state’s recreational pot sales tax is 15%. According to Proposition 119, it would increase to 18% in 2022, 19% in 2023 and 20% in 2024. The result is expected to bring in around 87.1 million dollars by the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
If the projections are correct, the reach of the program far exceeds its revenues. The Legislative Council’s Blue Book, a non-partisan analysis, fixes the price at at least $ 109.1 million by fiscal year 2022-23.
That shortfall and how the measure would cover it has created a wedge between major funder Gary Community Ventures, headed by former state senator Michael Johnston, and the education community. Gary and the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Colorado Education Association, were part of the coalition in 2020 to pass EE proposal, which created the state government’s Early Years Department and funded it with tax increases on tobacco products.
The allies are divided on prop 119. The CEA is officially neutral, although it initially supported the measure, according to Taxpayers for public education.
This is because the shortfall is covered by a required annual increase of $ 20 million from the general fund, diverting that money from the state land trust, which funds public schools by leasing public land for profit, such as agriculture, recreation, and mining. This has led opponents to call the program, which is open to students in public and private schools, a good in disguise.
Indeed, the ballot measure allows parents to choose who would provide these extracurricular services, and does not limit the providers to those of public education.
The providers, however, would be governed by the nine-member board, which is required to develop criteria for the selection and certification of providers of learning opportunities.
School districts and other “local education agencies” would be pre-certified, as would teachers. The state’s Blue Book states that “other interested suppliers must submit an application and be certified by the authority as an approved supplier. A list of local and national suppliers approved by the authorities will be made available to program participants. “
Because it does not change the constitution of the state, the issue only needs a simple majority to pass.
Voters could order the General Assembly to manage all “custodial” dollars, prohibiting state agencies from spending the money received for a particular purpose without a direct allocation from the legislature. He demands that these dollars be deposited in a new fund, which would earn interest in the general state fund.
The proposal also requires the legislature to hold a public hearing each year to allocate any expenditure from the new fund.
The General Assembly already has the authority to spend revenue from taxes, cash funds, and federal dollars. These decisions are mainly the responsibility of the Joint Budget Committee, which draws up the state expenditure plan each year, with the approval of the General Assembly and the governor.
What is at stake here are the “detention” dollars. As described in the Blue Book, this is money received from the federal government, legal regulations, or donations from individuals or organizations.
This electoral measure would change the state constitution, so it requires the approval of 55% of voters.
Why this is important:
In 2020 and 2021, the state received $ 1.67 billion from the federal government through several acts of Congress, including the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) law. But the General Assembly did not dictate how that money was used, in large part because it arose when the legislature was not in session.
Instead, Governor Jared Polis spent that money, which angered Republicans and even a few Democrats on the State Capitol.
Amendment 78 would add another layer of spending authorization for gifts, grants and donations, which are mainly sent to state colleges and universities. In addition, the Colorado Transportation Commission, appointed by the governor, currently dictates how federal dollars for roads, bridges and public transit are spent, but under Amendment 78, the General Assembly would appropriate those dollars.
The measure is supported by Colorado Climb Action, which put 2020 Measure 117 proposal on the ballot to require voter approval for new state-owned enterprises, paid for by any fees generated above $ 100 million in the first five years. This led Democrats in the General Assembly to come up with four companies for transport finance in the 2021 session, each below the bar for voter approval.
Unite for Colorado says a vote for Amendment 78 “would ensure that all state money is allocated by the legislature.” Instead of allowing the governor or attorney general to spend millions (if not billions) of dollars on their own, Amendment 78 would help provide the necessary oversight. It is time to end political slush funds operating out of public view. “
Those opposed include Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue, who is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state seeking to overturn election results on Amendment 78.
Pogue told Colorado Politics the results should be dismissed, in part because the measure has no connection to the state’s constitution Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a requirement for an odd-year election.
Pogue is opposed to the amendment because in an emergency – such as a recent wildfire in Summit County that threatened 500 to 600 homes – federal funds would have been available had homes been lost. These funds would also have helped the community in its recovery efforts, she said.
If Amendment 78 is adopted, all of these funds would have to flow through the legislature, which Pogue said would slow down the process and be prey to partisan haggling “it’s not in the best interest of communities like mine “.
Property tax assessment rates would be lowered, but only for collective dwellings and dwellings. Originally, the ballot measure would have lowered property tax assessment rates for all residential and non-residential properties.
However, at its last session, the General Assembly adopted Senate Bill 293, which changed the classifications of non-residential properties and reduced them to apartments and dwellings.
The property tax reduction measure, also backed by Colorado Rising State Action, requires a simple majority to pass.
The measure needs a simple majority to pass.