More ballot issues

Following are The Daily Sentinel’s editorial positions on several state ballot issues:

‘No’ on Amendment 51

Finding ways to provide additional assistance to the devlopmentally disabled is a laudable goal. But raising the state sales tax in the midst of a severe economic crunch and creating yet another off-limits revenue stream within the state budget that restricts legislative decision-making are not good ideas.

Already, projections for state revenue have dropped significantly from what they were just a few months ago, and Gov. Bill Ritter has ordered a number of measures to rein in state spending.

Amendment 51’s proposed sales tax increase isn’t large — two-tenths of 1 percent over two years — but we believe it is the wrong time for any increase in state tax rates.

Although this measure changes state law, not the Constitution, it would create a new stream of money that the Legislature would have to keep sacrosanct, even as it looks for ways to meet budget needs during an economic crunch. Beyond that, it would increase administrtative costs for programs for people with developmental disabilities by several hundred thousand dollars over the next few years, but it would prohibit lawmakers from using any of the new sales tax money to cover those costs. Other state programs would have to be cut to make up the difference. That’s no way to set budget policy, even in good economic times.

Vote “No” on Amendment 51.

‘No’ on Amendment 54

There are several reasons to reject Amendment 54, which is supposed to make government contracting more ethical. Specifically, it would affect any individual or organization that receives a no-bid contract — or sole-source contract — worth more than $100,000 from state or local government. It would prohibit them from making poltical contributions to a candidate or political party for two years after the contract has ended.

This effort to improve ethics takes extreme liberties with constitutional rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that contributing to candidates and political parties is a form of constitutionally protected speech. This measure would enact severe limits on those rights.

Is it fair, for example, to prohibit someone who has a sole-source contract with the city of Grand Junction from contributing to a state political party or a candidate?

There are many reasons a company or individual may have a sole-source contract with a government agency. They may be the only company in the vicininty that provides the product or service needed.

They may have the only compatible equipment or replacement parts. They may have a special knowledge of the government project that no other entity has. No one should lose the right to
participate in the political process because of that.

Furthermore, Amendment 54 includes “collective bargaining” in the definition of a sole-source contract.

That is aimed directly at labor organizations which represent public employees, such as teachers and police officers, and would effectively shut them out of the political process throughout the state.

No wonder labor organizations consider Amendment 54 one of the “poison pill” amendments. It is one of three that business groups agreed to actively fight last week in exchange for labor groups withdrawing four anti-business ballot measures.

That’s another reason for voters to reject this ballot measure.

Vote “No” on Amendment 54.

‘Yes’ on Referendum L

Since 1876, Colorado has required people who run for the state House of Representatives to be at least 25 years of age. But most other states allow people younger than that to seek a seat in the Legislature. This measure would reduce the age requirement for the Colorado House to 21.

Few 21-year-olds have a great interest in politics or running for elective office, but a few do. We see little reason why someone who is considered an adult in every other respect should be prohibited from serving in the Legislature.

Vote “Yes” on Referendum L.


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