Ken Salazar: Measures pose threats
October 19, 2008
At a moment when our economy is in crisis and hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their jobs, the last thing we should do in Colorado is upset the balance that has been maintained for decades and has helped us have a prosperous economy.
Yet three measures on the November ballot, Amendments 47, 49 and 54, threaten to do just that: undermine the healthy business climate in Colorado. Recognizing the threat posed by these amendments, an unprecedented coalition of Colorado’s business community, labor leaders, a group of elected officials and I have joined forces to oppose these three terrible measures. We hope all Coloradans will join us in this effort.
For the past several weeks, we all have been working together to defuse an explosive conflict on the ballot. At one point, it seemed that Coloradans would have to vote on an even larger group of ballot initiatives that, together, would do great harm to our economy. To their credit, Colorado’s labor leaders agreed to remove all of their measures from the ballot. Now, we are working together with business, labor and individuals from across the state to defeat Amendments 47, 49 and 54.
Sponsored by a small group of narrow special interests, Amendment 47 would undermine the balance that has served Colorado well for 65 years. Amendment 47 will let government interfere in the conversation between employers and employees, instead of allowing them to negotiate what’s best for them in the workplace. As the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce points out: “Colorado’s competitiveness and job growth is equal or better than ‘right to work’ states.” Adopting Amendment 47 would only set us back. We need to defeat Amendment 47 and protect our unique balance.
Amendment 49 targets public employees, including law enforcement officials, fire fighters and teachers, who provide vital services for all of us. Amendment 49 will interfere with the personal choice of working Coloradans about how they want to spend their hard-earned paychecks. Private companies let employees deduct portions of their pay, like health insurance premium payments and contributions to nonprofit charities such as the United Way. Our firefighters, nurses, teachers and law enforcement should not be excluded from having deductions made from their paychecks just because of the profession they choose.
Amendment 54 is a solution in search of a problem. Although it is being sold as an amendment to promote “clean government,” it is badly constructed and potentially violates court rulings that protect free speech. Amendment 54 will prohibit any person, or family member, of anyone who works on a single-source government contract from contributing to a candidate or advocating for an issue at any level for the extent of the contract and for two years after. Amendment 54 will effectively silence the voice of the individual in the political process by making it impossible for candidates to raise money through grass roots fundraising for fear of receiving a contribution from someone involved in a single-source government contract. This measure goes too far, is unnecessary and potentially violates the U.S. Constitution.
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Taken together, Amendments 47, 49 and 54 would undermine the balance that has worked in Colorado for decades. The current structure provides economic stability and allows for the greatest flexibility for the entrepreneurial spirit of Colorado.
We have too much work to do – on transportation, on energy, on education, on creating jobs – to be distracted and divided by these three damaging proposals.
I hope all Coloradans will join members of both political parties, of business and labor, and of communities from all corners of the state, and oppose Amendments 47, 49 and 54.
United States Senator