The Test of Truth

Posted on October 25, 2010 by

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Specifically regarding the amendments 60, 61 and 101. Political scientists have taken “facts” from 30 second television spots. There is no doubt that serious amounts of money is being pooled into the campaign gearing towards motivating voters to vote no on the amendments.

Amendment 60 would change Colorado’s constitution and seeks to cut property tax rates. This would require the state to replace K-12 education funding each year. 60 allows voters to challenge their local governments to reduce their property taxes. It overturns previously agreed to mill levy increases by communities. It sets up expiration dates for future voter-approved property tax increases.

Amendment 61 alters Colorado’s constitution by prohibiting the state from borrowing and limits local government from doing so, with voter approval, for more than 10 years.

Proposition 101 would change the state law to lower the state income tax, to reduce vehicle registration fees to $10, reduce vehicle sales taxes and to eliminate taxes and fees on phones except for 911 service.

All three are similar with regard to money and tax and lending limitations.  It’s very evident that all three propositions are driven by the conservative wing. Such shortages of money will have detrimental effects on Colorado’s public schools. 60, 61 and 101 remind me of the Tabor Law years ago meant to reign in and discipline spending. This piece has also had a negative impression on higher education spending.

A voter-approved recession. 73,000 jobs gone. 8,000 teachers lost.

The figure comes from a study conducted by Henry Sobanet, who worked as the budget director for former Gov. Bill Owens (R-Colorado). Sobanet is now a paid consultant for the campaign working to defeat this measure. Owens wrote an opinion piece for The Denver Post criticizing the measures as well. (Source:Denver Post, Sept. 26: http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_16158190)

Sobanet anticipates direct job losses if all three measures pass to be between 67,000 and 73,000. Roughly half of those job losses on the high range (21,448 in K-12 education and 13,359 in general government) would be public-sector positions eliminated by the decrease in tax revenue to governments around the state. The rest would come in the private sector, largely the result of stopping the roughly $2 billion spent each year in construction by governments throughout Colorado. (Source: Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce head Kelly Brough at the City Club of Denver debate on the ballot measures, Sept. 28)

After consulting with the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado Association of School Boards, Sobanet estimated 40 percent of the education jobs that would be lost would be teachers which is where the 8,000 jobs figure comes from. He anticipates the loss of $500 million in vehicle specific ownership tax revenue to school districts around Colorado if Proposition 101 passes. According to the Blue Book, current state law requires the state to reimburse school districts for their loss of vehicle specific ownership taxes.

That would be compounded with what Sobanet estimates will be a loss of $1.2 billion in revenue to schools if Amendment 61 passes, mostly smaller districts, which operate without the cash reserves of some of the larger districts. Those often need to borrow money from the state until spring tax collections are received.

Supporters say the argument amounts to scare tactics and that “you can make studies say whatever you want. They’re like statistics.” (Source: Phone conversation with Marty Neilson, Colorado Union of Taxpayers, Sept. 27) “When you put more money into the economy,” Neilson said, “you grow jobs. When you put more money into government, you don’t. If you put that much money into the economy, jobs will be created.”

A clip from 9News’s “Truth Test: The Facts” their promise to deliver both sides of the story while finding the most factual side.
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Posted in: Colorado