What would we do without these services? | PostIndependent.com

What would we do without these services?

Kay Vasilakis
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
New Castle News

How can you put a value on police and fire protection, schools and libraries, hospitals and health care, water conservation and the Colorado Division of Wildlife? What would we do without these and other valuable services we now take for granted?

The passage of Colorado Constitutional Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 would impact everyone in the state, cut our standard of living and eliminate much of our support systems.

Cutting taxes sounds great. But it isn’t that simple. The reality is, taxes allow our state to provide a good quality of life.

When state and local agencies lose funding, they have to raise fees to continue to offer services. Higher hunting, fishing and camping fees. Higher college tuitions.

What would you do if the fire department couldn’t respond to your fire?

Amendment 60 would require school districts to cut property taxes by 50 percent. The language in the amendment claims the state would make up the difference, but where would the money come from? Everyone knows Colorado is already strapped for cash and has cut billions from the budget.

If school districts would be forced to educate their students with half the funding they receive now, do you really think they could support extracurricular activities and sports such as football, basketball and soccer? Think about that one.

What about funding for music, art and the performing arts?

Passage of Amendment 60 would overturn hundreds of local “de-Brucing” laws you voted for since 1992. Colorado voters chose to give greater flexibility to school districts, library districts, police and fire departments and other services to meet local needs. If Amendment 60 passes the state would take control, resulting in financial instability for local communities. It would result in the closing of hospitals, schools, libraries and many vital nonprofits.

Passage of Amendment 61 would cripple Colorado’s economy and destroy economic recovery. It would eliminate Colorado’s ability to build or expand schools, roads, hospitals, college buildings, light rail, water and sewer systems and prisons. That is not an overstatement or something which could be easily remedied or overturned.

The amendment would prohibit “government borrowing.” This proposal has nothing to do with national-level problems such as borrowing and deficit spending. Proponents are trying to mislead voters by using “government borrowing” language when, in reality, they are trying to do away with state and local bonding.

Bonding is a prudent form of financing which local governments use to build schools, fire stations, water projects, prisons, airports, health facilities, highways, public transit and colleges. Amendment 61 would make it very difficult or impossible for state and local governments to issue these bonds.

The state would be prohibited from using financial tools such as “revenue anticipation notes” and “certificates of participation.” Not being able to use these tools would obstruct the state’s ability to provide services or meet payroll during times of the year when revenue is low.

Proposition 101 eliminates a major funding source for state road and bridge construction. The annual vehicle registration fee would be cut to $10. Road budgets would be cut by hundreds of millions of dollars, meaning more potholes, crumbling bridges and loss of local projects.

The Specific Ownership Tax on cars would be reduced to $2 on new cars and $1 on used cars. This revenue helps fund schools districts and other local government priorities. Local revenue would be cut by approximately $500 million every year.

More than 400 state and local agencies have signed a petition opposing Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, including the Aspen School District, the Association of General Contractors of Colorado, the Colorado Farm Bureau, the Colorado Environmental Coalition, the Colorado Bar Association, the Colorado Children’s Campaign,the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado High School Activities Association, the Colorado Nonprofit Association, the Colorado Rural Electric Association, the Denver Broncos Football Club, Flight for Life, Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors, Grand Valley Fire Protection District, the Independent Bankers of Colorado, the League of Women Voters of Colorado, the town of New Castle, the Trails and Open Space Coalition, and the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Denver Broncos took a stand on these issues.

The Garfield County Commissioners issued a statement opposing the issues; and the Grand River Hospital District Board of Directors, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and the Garfield County Public Library District have signed resolutions and taken other measures to oppose these proposals, too.

A majority of the state’s Republican legislators signed a letter urging their constituents to reject these ballot issues.

Why do you think so many diverse agencies are opposed to Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101? Because they deal with issues such as health care, fire protection, public transportation and the needs of children every day. They know these measures, if passed, would devastate Colorado families.

It is estimated that more than 73,000 jobs would be lost if these ballot measures pass. 73,000 more people would be fighting for jobs which have hundreds of applications from people who are already out of work.

Local nonprofits would be severely affected if these measures pass in November. More people would look for help in the nonprofit sector if they couldn’t get the services they need at the local government level. Nonprofits are already feeling increasing demand from this recession. They, too, would have their funding cut because local government wouldn’t be able to support them, making nonprofits unable to offer services and keep their doors open.

How many “For Sale” signs are displayed on your block right now? With the mass quantity of lost jobs and lost services, more people would move out of Colorado. Your friends and neighbors.

Even if somehow you could escape impacts if these ballot issues passed, I bet someone close to you would be deeply hurt. Maybe your mother, your kids or your grandkids.

Passage of these issues would result in longtime state and local governmental chaos. Who would benefit from this upheaval?

Ballot verbiage has been confusing in the past. But when you vote NO on these issues, you are voting against Amendment 60 and 61 and Proposition 101.

Vote NO on Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101. Keep Colorado a great place to live.

– Information for this article was taken from information distributed by The Bell Policy Center and Coloradans for Responsible Reform.

– Kay Vasilakis’ “New Castle News” column runs every other Thursday in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. For a possible mention of a positive local event or news item, please e-mail kvasilakis2222@gmail.com or call 618-6689.

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