Jul 19, 2010 8:22 PM by Zach Thaxton

Poli-Sci Prof. Analyzes Tax-Slashing Ballot Measures

Colorado voters will have to decide on a trio of controversial tax-slashing issues on the November ballot.  Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 aim to reduce individual tax burden in a number of ways, but opponents claim it will come at the expense of essential services.

Amendment 60 would reform the property tax system.  Amendment 61 would limit government borrowing.  Proposition 101 would reduce taxes and fees on income, vehicle registration, and telecommunication.

"Those that support 60 argue that it reduces the amount of money in government," says Bob Loevy, a professor of politicial science at Colorado College.  Opponents say it will cripple school districts, which will have to rely on funding from the state rather than from property taxes.

Amendment 61 would require all borrowing to be voter-approved.  Projects that don't receive loan approval from voters at an election must be paid for up-front.  Proponents say it will ensure fiscal prudence.  Projects will be paid for before they begin.  Opponents say that's impractical, likening it to trying to buy a house by paying with hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash out of a checking or savings account rather than securing a mortgage.  "Things that the city now buys by borrowing money, it will now have to wait until it accumulates the money over the years through taxes," Loevy says.  Opponents say it would delay crucial projects for months, years, or even decades.  Proponent say the burden of a delay is less severe than the burden of taxpayers having to repay interest on loans.

Proposition 101 would set vehicle registration fees at $10 per vehicle per year.   The state uses money from vehicle registration fees to help fund road improvement projects.  "Do voters want more money in their pocket," Loevy asks hypothetically, "or do they want the state and city to have the money they need for roads?"  Proposition 101 would also lower income tax rates if yearly tax revenue grows by more than 6% and would end taxes and fees on phone, pager, and cable bills.

Loevy anticipates the three measures will have a good chance of passing.  He says most voters are not likely to fully inform themselves of the potential impacts of the measures, but rather voting based on the titles for each measure as written on the ballot.  He advises voters to consider the pros and cons of all three measures over the next few months and make a fully-informed decision in November.


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