3 ‘no’ votes, 2 ‘yes’ votes on 5 statewide ballot issues | SteamboatToday.com

3 ‘no’ votes, 2 ‘yes’ votes on 5 statewide ballot issues

With a multi-page ballot this fall, featuring 10 statewide ballot issues, the Steamboat Pilot & Today Editorial Board is using today's Our View space to offer our positions on five of those measures — Amendments Y and Z, Amendment 73, Amendment 74 and Proposition 112.

Vote 'yes' on Y and Z

In this day and age of intensely partisan bickering, Amendments Y and Z, which propose to establish a new process for congressional and state legislative redistricting, sound almost too good to be true. The bipartisan measure would reward unaffiliated voters and nonpartisan staffers, and it would be locally beneficial, aligning districts with geographically similar traits and interests.

In a nutshell, Y and Z limit the role of partisan politics in the redistricting process by transferring the task to an independent commission and creating a stronger check and balance system. The proposed initiatives also aim to make elections more competitive, which we believe has the potential to produce more centrist candidates.

At a glance

At issue: The Steamboat Pilot & Today Editorial Board is taking a position on 5 state ballot initiatives.

Our View: The board is encouraging a 'no' vote on three of the five issues; only Y and Z get our support.

Editorial Board

• Logan Molen, publisher

• Lisa Schlichtman, editor

• Mike Burns, community representative

• Melissa Hampton, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or
lschlichtman@
SteamboatPilot.com

And although this newspaper has traditionally been opposed to statewide amendments, we believe this is the kind of issue that should be handled through a change to the constitution.

Vote 'no' on 73

Amendment 73 proposes to raise state funding for preschool through 12th grade education by increasing the corporate income tax, as well as the income tax rate for some individuals, and creating new property assessment rates for taxes levied by school districts. In our opinion, this measure is riddled with negatives, including the creation of complex taxation formulas that would adversely impact local governments that are ill equipped to handle the complicated tax collections associated with this amendment.

This measure has also been labeled a "blank check" for schools, raising $1.6 billion in new revenue for schools in its first year. And while we think funding for public education should be a statewide priority, we can't support a measure that does not include a clear guarantee of increased academic achievement. We also think school funding should be handled through legislation rather than by an amendment to the constitution.

According to Larimar County Assessor Steve Miller, who has studied the impacts of Amendment 73 on county assessments across the state, this measure would also negatively affect property tax revenues of all taxing authorities that are not school districts if the Gallagher ratio is to be maintained — another unintended consequence of this misguided measure.

The negatives far outweigh the positives with this ballot initiative, so we encourage a "no" vote.

Vote 'no' on 74

Amendment 74 is a broad property rights ballot measure that would allow property owners to seek "just" compensation if government action reduces the "fair market value" of their property. This initiative contains murky language that we think would add unneeded complexity to almost every government action from affordable housing to code enforcement, and we urge voters to reject the initiative.

Steamboat Springs City Council member Kathi Meyer, who serves on the Colorado Municipal League's executive board, calls Amendment 74 the "Attorney Full Employment Act" because the proposed measure would open a Pandora's box of issues for lawyers to exploit in any number of ways and we think it would result in endless lawsuits against city and county government. And ultimately, those legal costs would be passed on to the taxpayer.

Oregon voters passed a measure similar to 74 in 2004, and in the first year, property owners filed more than 2,000 claims. After three years, $20 billion in claims were filed and voters eventually repealed the measure. Let's learn from Oregon and reject 74.

Vote 'no' on 112

Proposition 112, which would increase setbacks from 500 to 2,500 feet for any new oil and natural gas development in Colorado to protect public health, is a well-intended measure that goes too far. We believe Colorado needs to take steps to move away from fossil fuels and toward renewables with a goal of becoming energy independent at some in the future, but Proposition 112 is not the right vehicle to tackle this.

This initiative would result in dramatic and punitive land-use restrictions instead of incentives that encourage investment in alternative energy. It is estimated that if 112 passes, as many as 147,500 jobs would be lost and the state would stand to lose more than $1 billion in tax revenue. And according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 85 percent of the state's nonfederal land would be off-limits to oil and gas development if 112 passes.

Although we support a "no" vote on Proposition 112, that position comes with the recognition that there are still unknowns about the human and environmental impacts of fracking. Industry experts agree that fracking should be considered a "bridge" technology, as we move toward a future with renewable energy sources as permanent solutions to our energy needs. But we feel that increasing setbacks now may cause serious harm to Colorado's economy without alternatives yet in place.

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