Opinion | Susan Knopf: Save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and our schools | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Susan Knopf: Save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and our schools

Susan Knopf

Heads up: The Trump administration expects to begin auctioning oil and gas leases for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before the end of the year! According to The Washington Post, this is a 40-year Republican goal.

Fifteen states and the Gwich’in Alaskan tribes are filing suit against the move. What happens in the wildlife refuge affects us all.

If you want to stop it, vote for Hick, and vote blue down the ballot. Let’s stop planned drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

‘Yes’ on Proposition 118

Vote “yes” on Proposition 118, the paid family and medical leave program, a citizen-initiated ballot issue.

This is a tough one. Squeeze more juice out of meager wages? Yeah, just a drop, and believe me, you’ll find the value well worth the drop. It’s a proposed state-run insurance program like unemployment insurance. The program provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave and kicks off in 2023.

It costs just 0.9% of an employee’s taxable wage with at least 50% paid by the employer and up to 50% paid by the employee. (If your employer decides to pay more, you pay less!)

Say you make $500 per week. You and your employer will each pay $2.25 per week. That’s an annual insurance premium of $117. Benefits will begin after we pay into the program for one year.

Under the program, if you or a loved one gets sick, you’d be entitled to paid family or medical leave. In our example, you’ll be entitled to $450 per week for up to 12 weeks. There are great tables to explain it all beginning on Page 55 of the Blue Book.

A new state law goes into effect in January that requires employers to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of six days per year. That law is separate from this insurance program.

This is a great way to get a good benefit by spreading risk across a large pool. You get a better, more affordable benefit than most small businesses can offer their employees. Insurance is a business of scale. The bigger the scale, the better the value.

As someone who took off two months to care for a small child, and later took off two months to care for an ailing parent, I can say this benefit would have been greatly appreciated! This is also valuable for the single. If you tear your ACL, you’ll be able to get paid medical leave. This is a win-win. It’s going to cost you just a drop of juice.

‘Yes’ on Amendment B

Vote “yes” on Amendment B, placed on the ballot by the Legislature, to repeal the Gallagher Amendment.

For the record, Amendment B has bipartisan legislative support. Long the bane of taxpayers and government, we may soon be able see this well-intentioned constitutional amendment in the rearview mirror.

What you need to know: It won’t raise your taxes! It will lock in the current residential assessment rate at 7.15% for residential and 29% for most nonresidential property (Blue Book Page 11).

Emmy Award-winning reporter Marshall Zelinger of 9News has a terrific explanation of Gallagher and what happens if B passes or fails. Search “Marshall explains amendment B” to find the video.

Former Colorado Secretary of State, and Grand Junction native, Bernie Buescher wrote a commentary for the Summit Daily News in favor of Amendment B.  

Claire Leonard, Ph.D., of Silverthorne, wrote a letter in the Summit Daily urging a “yes” vote on B.

Retired Summit County Tax Assessor, with 12 years experience, Beverly Breakstone, also urges you to vote “yes” on B.

Breakstone says no other state has a Gallagher nor a TABOR amendment. She says the two work against one another. Breakstone favors passing Amendment B to “stabilize the budgets of the taxing entities (like schools) who share county property tax (revenue).”

When Gallagher passed, Breakstone said the assessment rate was 29% for nonresidential and 21% for residential. That percentage is applied to the value of your home, then the mill rate is applied to that. You can see that if Gallagher forces a drop in the percentage, local governments collect less taxes every year. We just can’t maintain the same services for less money.

If you want to restore sanity to local government budgets, and stop the incessant requests for tax increases just to keep budgets the same as last year, vote “yes” on Amendment B.

Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf has worn many hats in her career, including working as an award-winning journalist and certified ski instructor. She moved to Silverthorne in 2013 after vacationing in Summit County since the 1970s. Contact her at sdnknopf@gmail.com.

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