Updated: August 25, 2010 at 12:00 am
The Colorado Springs business community linked arms with local politicians Wednesday to oppose a trio of ballot measures they say would cripple the state.
The effort, led by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, drew a tie-wearing crowd to a lunch time rally at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, where speakers decried Amendment 60, Amendment 61 and Proposition 101, which voters will decide in November.
Amendment 60 would cut property taxes. Amendment 61 would limit the government’s ability to borrow money for projects or shot-term needs and Proposition 101 would cut car fees and the state income tax.
“If these three were to pass, we might as well turn off the lights and go home,” said Mike Kazmierski, who heads the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation.
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Supporters of the measures say they would ensure a thrifty and streamlined government for future generations. At the rally, opponents said the measures would ruin government services while pushing the economy deeper into recession.
Anne Wamser, with Garden of the Gods Bank in Colorado Springs, said small businesses will suffer if the tax cuts pass and government borrowing stops.
“Building projects that are the lifeblood of small businesses will simply disappear,” she said.
The business people echoed what government leaders have been saying for months.
Colorado Springs School District 11 Board Member Bob Null said education would take a massive hit if the measures pass, with budgets seeing a cut of more than 25 percent.
“These three initiatives will drmatically cut funding for all school districts in our state,” Null told the crowd.
Colorado Springs Democratic state Rep. Michael Merrifield agreed.
“We would go back to the dark ages with Draconian cuts and huge class sizes,” said Merrifield, who heads the House Education Committee.
The measures are drawing opposition from conservative leaders, too, including Colorado Springs Republican state Rep. Bob Gardner, who opposed tax increases in the recent General Assembly session but said the tax-cutting measures go too far.
“These are a bad idea,” Gardner said. “It’s just too much.”
Chamber boss Dave Csintyan estimated that the three measures would lead to more than 75,000 job cuts statewide.
“The reason the chamber is leading the way in El Paso County is that small businesses will be hard-hit,” he told the crowd.