On September 19, 2018 the South Metro Denver Chamber, in partnership with Common Sense Roundtable, hosted their 2018 Ballot Initiative Forum at the Lone Tree Arts Center. Information regarding Propositions 109, 110, 112, and Amendment 73 were presented. We have provided the questions that were submitted by attendees during the forum, along with the campaign responses below.
Is there a possibility for the legislature to mess with the funding that would be generated by initiative 110?
Prop 110 funds are structure to be collected by the state Treasurer and deposited directly into the Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF). Like with our gas tax dollars, this long standing approach ensures that the funds are protected from the annual general fund allocation process.
What happens if Proposition 109 and 110 both pass?
If there is a dispute over which measure is to be given effect, both propositions will be reviewed by the courts to determine if there are direct conflicts. If there are none, both will go into effect. If there are any direct conflicts, the measure that receives the most votes will prevail. Since both contain bonding authority, CDOT's ability to bond would increase by approximately $2b over what is included in Prop 110 provided the legislature makes an annual general fund transfer to CDOT. The Transportation Commission would have to review both lists of projects and determine which projects to advance where conflicts in project scopes differ.
What happens if they both fail?
This scenario keeps Colorado right where it is in funding for transportation today. SB 267 stays in place and CDOT will continue to issue COPs up to $1.5b. No new funds will be available for local entities or for multimodal projects. Colorado would continue on the same path of roadway congestion and deterioration.
What happens if only Prop 109 passes?
Since SB 1 directs that if a ballot measure is approved by the voters that does not include a new revenue source, then the Certificates of Participation included in SB267 would be eliminated and the general fund revenues identified to pay for those bonds would be returned to the general fund (approx. $100m/annually). This would leave CDOT with only $2 billion in new bonding authority and dependent on the legislature to make annual transfers from the general fund to make debt service payments. In addition, the Transportation Commission would have to review the list of projects in Prop 109 and determine which projects would not be built since Prop 109 only provides $3.5 billion for $5.6 billion worth of projects.
What happens if only Prop 110 passes?
This is the best solution for Colorado by providing a new long term sustainable funding source and provides the most certainty for our deteriorating transportation system. Funding would be shared between state, cities, counties and multimodal projects to reinvest in the systems that serve our daily mobility needs. CDOT, in collaboration with their planning partners, has identified approximately 130 projects that would be built utilizing $6 billion in bonding authority.
Does bonding such a large amount prohibit or hinder the state to bond on other projects? I recall TREX hindered any projects to be done elsewhere in the state, such as 36 highway.
Prop 110 authorizes $6 billion in bonding for the state. CDOT is working to develop a schedule of project delivery and to address all 107 project in a 10 year period. However, it is important to note that CDOT may not need to bond for the entire amount and may be able to advance projects on a pay-as-you-go basis. In addition, CDOT has been working with the construction and suppliers industry to ensure projects are scheduled to maximize program delivery.
A lot of different taxes were mentioned. Where are all the taxes going to take place? Meanwhile, are they from sales, property, income?
Amendment 73 does the following:
If approved, Colorado would go from having among the lowest income tax rates in the nation to the eighth highest – and Colorado would have the highest income tax rate in the Rocky Mountain West, higher than New Mexico, a state with a notoriously bad business environment. When other states have enacted tax increases this large, companies have located jobs and headquarters to other states.
If businesses generally support education but oppose Amendment 73, what are the general parameters that business would support?
The “No on Amendment 73” endorsers unified in their support for improving our education system in Colorado; however, they believe that changes need to be made to our foundational educational system structure before we approve a blank check with no assurance that any of these dollars will ever reach the classroom. Discussions about how to change that structure should happen first, before funding mechanisms can be applied.
The amendment 73 flyer says there would be a loss of 11,400 private sector jobs. What would be the increase in local education jobs?
Amendment 73 is being sold as a big benefit for teacher pay and new school buildings. The reality is the measure provides no guarantee that the funds will be used for those purposes. Further, there is no guarantee of improved student performance from these funds.
History demonstrates that a large percentage of new revenues will go toward administrators, overhead and the huge education bureaucracy. From 1992 to 2014, overall education spending increased 15%, while teacher pay decreased 11%.
There simply is no correlation between more spending and achievement. Not higher test scores. Not better college readiness. Not improved job preparedness.
Moreover, the property tax increase on homeowners in Amendment 73 will rob local governments of resources. The measure was written so poorly that it will force more money to schools at the expense of fire districts, library districts, and irrigation and water districts – arguably creating the potential for additional job losses.
You mentioned a structural problem in education. What is that problem?
Colorado school kids deserve solid educational opportunities. Most agree teachers need to be better compensated for their important work. Yet, while this measure seeks to elevate per-pupil funding it also means:
During the past six school years, P-12 Colorado public education staffing increased by 14,517 new jobs; of which only 33% were new teachers. At the same time, the number of students has grown by 56,015. For every 3.9 students, Colorado’s education system added one new staff member.
According to the National Education Association, Colorado currently ranks 27th in per-pupil expenditures yet we rank 43rd in percentage of spending on instruction. Most will find it interesting Colorado ranks 5th in the nation on administration costs (US Census Education Finance data).
Further clouding the massive middle class and business tax hike that are contemplated in Amendment 73 are three pieces of legislation (’04, 06, 18) already passed to bolster the public employees’ pension fund (PERA). The combined increases equate to $645 per-pupil already. There is no assurance taxes raised from Amendment 73 will not be used to backfill the limping PERA to pay down the unfunded liabilities.
Amendment 73’s consequences are too costly. It holds no guarantees for teachers or improving student educational opportunities. And, it robs our first responders of the resources necessary to keep our schools and communities safe.
For more information about the South Denver Metro Chamber’s policy positions click here.