The Board of Directors of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union has denounced the “Big Bad Three” initiatives (Amendment 60, Amendment 61, and Proposition 101) is potentially disastrous for the state of Colorado and its local communities.
Speaking of Amendment 60, RMFU Board Chair Jan Kochis said, “It could kill the schools, community recreation programs, and any new capital improvement projects in your community. It could cut more than $1 billion from local schools.” The amendment changes property taxes, increasing the burden on the state government to find money for schools in a shrinking revenue stream.
“These three initiatives are a deadly combination,” according to RMFU President Kent Peppler. “Amendment 60 strips the state of revenue, Amendment 61 forbids it from incurring debt, and Proposition 101 returns our auto license fees to 1919 levels. We need to send the corporate, out-of-state funders attempting to destroy our state a message: ‘This is OUR state! and we aren’t going back to 1919!’”
RMFU Vice President Dale McCall, who is a lifetime farmer and educator and currently executive director of the Colorado BOCES Association, said, “If these initiatives pass, our Colorado public schools will be strangled. All school districts in Colorado will lose an additional 23 percent of their revenue. This 23 percent loss of revenue will be in addition to the 6.38 percent they lost in the current year. This loss of revenue would devastate all schools, especially rural schools that are also declining in enrollment. These three initiatives must be defeated to allow Colorado to provide a quality, competitive education for our kids.”
Organizations across the state have scrambled to educate voters about the initiatives, which appeared on the ballot while questions about who was organizing their campaigns, where their money was coming from, and whether they obtained the necessary signatures legally swirl in the state’s courts. “Ironically, proponents of measures accuse those of us fighting them of using out-of-state money, but they refuse to disclose their own sources and their numbers don’t add up,” Peppler stated.
County and city commissioners, police and fire chiefs, superintendents of schools from Haxtun to Delta, Fort Collins to Alamosa have urged voters to defeat these measures. As quoted in the Fort Morgan Times, Progressive 15’s executive director, Cathy Shull, summed up the impact on Morgan County: “Under Proposition 101, local school districts would lose almost $1.3 million. The Morgan County government would lose close to $1 million,” Shull said. “Cities and towns in the county would lose close to $200,000, hospital districts $60,000, fire districts $47,000, library districts $47,000 and water districts $45,000.” This is the impact on a single Colorado county.
“These measures are exploiting taxpayer discontent to wreck the state’s government and economy,” Peppler said. “The motives of the people behind this are pretty clear. Colorado’s local communities have spent almost 20 years ‘de-Brucing’ our tax laws to keep local government afloat. One clause of Amendment 60 actually repeals any voter-elected attempts to lessen the local effect of TABOR.”