Kids Voting: Amendment 61 described as pay-as-you-go spending
By Mary King
Amendment 61 specifically refers to how state, county and local governments will borrow money.
If Amendment 61 passes, state, county and local government groups such as school districts, fire and police districts, and public hospitals will be required to do the following: pay off all current debts, require Colorado voter approval for any future borrowing, limit how much time is taken to repay the debt to a maximum of 10 years and reduce tax rates automatically after the debt has been repaid.
Additionally, the amendment would ban the state from incurring any debt by loans in any form.
Supporters of the amendment say the bill encourages fiscal restraint by requiring a pay-as-you-go spending plan and reduces the tax burden on our children. They also say debt is expensive and that voters should have the right to vote on any local debt.
Amendment proponent Russell Haas of Golden said, “We want to control the costs of government borrowing so the students of today don’t have to pay for the projects of yesterday.”
According to Haas, Amendment 61 was proposed in order to control government borrowing.
School District 51 Board member Diann Rice is against the amendment, saying it would limit the amount of time that the school district could borrow money or have a bond issue. She said that school districts could only borrow money for 10 years; therefore, taxes would have to be raised so high that it would be hard for school districts to build new schools.
Amendment 61 also will affect how fire departments borrow money for large purchases such as building a new station or buying a new truck.
Grand Junction Fire Chief Ken Watkins said, “Currently, depending on circumstances, the Fire Department may or may not have to ask the voters permission to borrow money for these types of projects.”
Watkins added that if Amendment 61 passes, voters will have to approve any large purchases, and the Fire Department would have to repay the loan in 10 years.
At this time, the loans can be spread out over a longer period of time.
Grand Junction Mayor Teresa Coons said the biggest impact of this amendment is the fact that entities could borrow money only for that 10-year period.
“It would make it nearly impossible for us to do any big projects,” Coons said.
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Mary King is an eighth-grader at Holy Family Catholic School and is reporting on election issues for The Daily Sentinel in conjunction with Kids Voting of Mesa County.