Opinion | Susan Knopf: Vote ‘no’ on state ballot questions
For the Record
No, no and no!
Vote “no” on Amendment 78, “no” on Proposition 119 and “no” on Proposition 120. I agree with the Colorado Democratic Party Central Committee, which will surprise my conservative readers.
The first item in your state ballot information booklet, or Blue Book, is Constitutional Amendment 78. Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue filed a lawsuit to stop this amendment. The argument is that this sort of amendment is not supposed to be on the ballot in an odd-year election.
Voting “no” means state agencies can “continue spending custodial money and certain other money without appropriation by the state Legislature.”
This highlights the perpetual battle between conservatives and progressives: Do you believe government serves the good of the community, or do you believe government is a quagmire of waste and should be minimally funded?
I think most of us think both realities exist simultaneously, but I lean toward the idea that government largely functions for the public good. I like the library, and I like the road in front of my house. I’m grateful for public schools and the government-paid teachers who taught me. I love our state, national and local parks and natural areas. These are all valuable public amenities provided by our tax dollars.
This constitutional amendment would require the Legislature to directly allocate all state funds. That’s an unnecessary time waster. It might even put us in danger if there were a delay in allocating wildfire funds.
Pogue told The Denver Post, “It’s important that we receive those funds quickly, and that they not get tied up in … partisan bickering, that they come directly to the counties as quickly as possible, and I am concerned that Amendment 78 … can really have a very negative effect on my community.”
Republicans simply want to create more government inefficiency so they can say government is inefficient, and we will be persuaded to defund it. It’s darkly funny they object to the “defund the police” movement. That’s exactly what they’re trying to do in Proposition 120, which reduces property tax assessments.
Who doesn’t want lower property taxes?
The nonpartisan Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly writes on Page 19 of your Blue Book, “Proposition 120 is expected to decrease property tax revenue to local governments … by an estimated $45.9 million in 2022 and $50.3 million in 2023.”
Who wants to defund the police or provide less fire protection? Who wants less maintenance of our streets, parks and libraries? Who wants underfunded schools? Lower taxes equals fewer services.
A conservative political action group spent more than a million dollars to pass 120. Elliot Goldbaum of the Colorado Fiscal Institute says mostly millionaires will benefit. He adds, “This doesn’t do anything to make sure older Coloradans and disabled veterans get that property tax benefit.”
I am fascinated that we continue to struggle over and over again with the same issue. This is just another way to fight about it.
Proposition 119 sounds great. Let’s use the marijuana sales tax to pay for tutoring and other out-of-school enrichment. Don’t be fooled. Ask a law enforcement officer: Even though marijuana sales are legal, we still struggle with underground, illegal sales. This tax will further drive the illegal marijuana trade.
No, no and no. That was easy.
What’s not so easy is getting our infrastructure bill passed. It comes down to the same arguments we’ve talked about. Can government do good? Or is it wasteful and needs to be limited? It’s an enduring political battle.
Have you seen the airports abroad, driven their roads or used the internet? Our infrastructure lags behind leading nations. We need to invest in ourselves and in our economy. Everything you eat and wear moves by truck. Trucks drive on roads. Future trucks will require high-speed internet to control navigation.
Have you driven over some of our crumbling bridges? We are resting on the work of our parents and grandparents. It’s time to invest in our present and our future. Infrastructure projects create jobs. We can move forward.
Both parties used to believe in American exceptionalism. Now the right-wingers seem to think all government investment is welfare. Most infrastructure we enjoy begins with government.
Let’s build infrastructure for this century. Urge Congress to pass the biggest possible investment package. Unlike the Trump tax package that increased our deficit 40%, the infrastructure bill is designed to be deficit neutral. We’re investing in us, our children and our future.
Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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