Come November, Coloradans will be asked to vote on three initiatives, which if passed, could kill over 70,000 local jobs and put 8,000 school teachers out of work. Amendment 60, which deals with a reduction in property taxes, would overturn previously voted revenue retention measures, costing our cash strapped localities $549 million. Additionally, Amendment 60 would cause school districts to slash their mill levies by half in the next 10 years. This would cause a loss of more than $1 billion for our schools, a loss the state is supposed to backfill, but from what source? Additionally, Amendment 60 could cause entities like your local water provider to pay property taxes on all of its property, which will lead to exorbitant fee increases passed on to us, the consumers.
The second of the initiatives, Amendment 61, would require that we the voters approve any public debt. The vague draftsmanship of the amendment may require us to vote on such mundane, but necessary, items as copy machine contracts for your local library. Additionally, any borrowing by a local government must end within 10 years. Municipal financing payment standards are in the 20-40 year range. Such borrowing will cost us, the taxpayers, in the long run. Imagine having to pay your mortgage in 10 years instead of 30 years. The cost of such borrowing goes up exponentially.
Finally, Proposition 101 would cause vehicle ownership taxes and registration fees to drop to nominal values. Such a revenue loss will stunt the Highway Users Tax Fund, which was created to prevent bridge collapses, like the one that occurred in Minneapolis killing 13 people and injuring 145, from happening here in Colorado.
The proponents of these initiatives are counting on our hard times to cloud our judgment. However, slashing vital funding for necessary public services is wrong, anytime. It is even worse when our local governments are already making difficult budgetary cuts for essential services. As much as I like tax cuts, I love driving my car on a safe bridge and knowing the children in my community have the educational resources they need to be the leaders of tomorrow.