Yes, we are having an election this year! Although we are not electing a President, Congress, or Colorado state officials, we do get to weigh in on several important issues. And, it’s an entirely mail-in ballot election, so all you have to do is drop your ballot in the mail (don’t forget postage) or drop it off postage-free at a collection site.
Proposition AA concerns Retail Marijuana Taxes.
The measure would implement a 15% excise tax on all marijuana sales in the state (which we legalized last year with Amendment 64). This revenue would be used to fund K-12 school construction. The measure would also add a 10% sales tax (in addition to normal state and local taxes). This revenue would be used to fund the regulation and monitoring of the marijuana retail business in Colorado.
Amendment 66 involves Funding for Public Schools.
This measure would raise a projected total of $950 million for funding public education by increasing the state’s income tax rate. The measure would also fully implement the new Public School Finance Act (already passed in the state legislature), which distributes state K-12 funding more equitably across the state’s school districts. Our current personal income tax rate is 4.63%. Amendment 66 would implement a two-tier state income-tax rate increase. Income up to $75,000 would be taxed at 5%, and income above $75,000 would be taxed at 5.9%.
To review arguments for and against each initiative, you can consult the state’s “Blue Book” or check out the information at the website of the non-partisan League of Women Voters at http://www.lwvcolorado.org/.
Besides these two state issues, counties and cities may have other additional items to vote on.
Larimer County Issue
Ballot Initiative 1A, concerning the Loveland Courthouse Office, is a formality. The money for the project has already been collected; but, because of a technicality, the bill has to be passed a second time to approve the construction of a new building.
City of Fort Collins
Fort Collins voters will choose whether or not to enact a 5-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Ballot Issue 2A would ban fracking inside the city limits and on any other property owned by the city. Proponents of 2A are concerned about health and safety issues surrounding the process, and the waste that is left behind that may be injected into the water supply. The ban would be lifted in 2019, allowing for the issue to be visited again by local officials, the voters, and the business community. For arguments in favor of 2A, see www.healthyfoco.com (Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins). For arguments against 2A, see www.cred.org (Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development).
Poudre School District R-1
This year, the Poudre School District has three openings on the school board. The school board consists of seven members who run in geographic districts but who are elected by all district voters. School board members serve staggered four year terms. Two of those positions have candidates that are running unopposed, Christophe Febvre (District D) and Nicholas Holian (District E). The third seat (District C) is being contested by two candidates, Dr. David Trask and Mel Hilgenberg. Trask, a retired college professor (with a 38 year career), brings an array of concerns for student testing, parental involvement, and school district governance. Mel Hilgenberg, a former teacher’s union organizer, supports a voucher system. He wishes to cut funding for public school bureaucracies, which he believes are impeding the progress of students.
So, public schools, marijuana regulation, and fracking. It may be a short ballot, but there’s a lot at stake. Be sure to send in your ballot!