October 21, 2010
Three measures on the November ballot will either destroy Colorado or rein in its overspending government, depending on which side is talking.
The vastly different views of Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 are center stage of a heated campaign that includes claims and counterclaims of nefarious actions by the opposing sides.
Supporters say the measures would stop out-of-control spending, restore the people’s right to vote on taxes and spur the economy by putting more cash in the hands of people and businesses.
Opponents say the measures would harm schools, destroy the state’s ability to maintain public works and put thousands of people reliant on state programs out of work.
One thing is clear, the measures would have a sweeping impact.
Here’s what they would do — broadly and to a typical family — according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Counsel:
• Amendment 60 would halve property taxes by 2020, requiring school districts to replace as much as $1.5 billion in annual local revenue with money from the state.
It would eliminate property tax increases that have been approved by voters since 1992 when the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights constitutional amendment was approved by voters. Future property tax increases would expire within 10 years.
If Amendment 60 is approved, a taxpayer making $55,000 and living in a $295,000 house would save $87 in the first year, and $376 in 2020.
• Amendment 61 would prohibit future borrowing by state government, stopping an annual average of $2.9 billion in state borrowing, most of which is spent on public works projects.
It would require voter approval of borrowing by local governments, prohibit extensions of current borrowing, and limit local government borrowing to 10-year loans, with limits on how much can be borrowed. It would cut tax rates when debts are repaid.
A taxpayer making $55,000 and living in a $295,000 house would save $274 per year.
• Proposition 101 would lower the state income tax, decrease car registration fees and do away with state and local taxes and fees on telephones, except for 911 fees. It would cut revenue to the state by as much as $1.8 billion when fully implemented in 2020.
Income tax would fall to 4.5 percent in 2011 and fall over time to 3.5 percent. Car ownership taxes would drop over four years to $2 for new cars, and $1 for used cars.
A family with an income of $110,000, a couple of cars, and $180 in monthly phone bills would see a tax cut of $545 in the first year and $1,791 by 2020.