Group prepares TV ads against anti-tax, debt measures

QUICKREAD

November ballot questions

• Amendment P: Regulation of games of chance.

• Amendment Q: Temporary location for the state seat of government.

• Amendment R: Exempt possessory interests in real property.

Amendment 60: Property taxes.

Amendment 61: State and local debt limitations.

Amendment 62: Definition of person.

Proposition 101: Motor vehicle, income, and telecommunications taxes and fees.

Ballot information is available at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office website, http://www.sos.state.co.us. Click on the elections tab and follow the links to initiative information.



The issue committee fighting three anti-tax and anti-debt measures on this fall’s ballot is prepared to inundate the airwaves starting next month with commercials about the controversial questions.

And that committee, Coloradans for Responsible Reform, has the money to do it.

To date, the group has collected nearly $5 million and has spent $3.5 million of it to reserve television air time starting after Labor Day to begin its advertising campaign, said Dan Hopkins, the committee’s spokesman.

“The campaign as a whole has to be educational because if you don’t get people to really research the three measures, on the surface they don’t sound bad,” Hopkins said. “It’s when you delve into them you see all the dire consequences. These are recessionary, job-killing measures.”

The ballot questions, Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, are designed to limit debt by state and local governments, cut vehicle-registration fees and limit how much school districts can set in mill levies for property taxes.

While opponents of the measures say they would completely bankrupt state and local governments, supporters say they will teach government officials to learn to live within their means.

Natalie Menten, campaign coordinator for Colorado Tax Reforms, which put the measures on the ballot, said they are designed to undo much of what the Legislature, local voters and the court have done to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights since it was approved in 1992.

“Until governments are put in the position of living within their means, they take the easy way out,” she said. “They should start to think more efficiently and think outside the box.”

Though her group has raised slightly more than $12,000, Menten said she hopes the measures are written well enough to earn voter support, particularly in the current anti-establishment climate that seems to be prevalent in politics this year.

Her two biggest donors are Muhammad Ali Hasan, who ran an unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination for Colorado treasurer this year, and his mother, Seeme Hasan, board chairwoman of the Hasan Family Foundation. That Pueblo-based group paid and then recently demanded back $300,000 from former congressman Scott McInnis over a plagiarism scandal.

“It’s disturbing to see so much money being put out there to oppose us by companies who are obviously profiting from taxes and debt,” Menten said. “I hope (the voters) get really annoyed with the flood of commercials that they’re going to have.”

Hopkins said most state officials and politicians oppose the measures, but voter attitude against so-called establishment candidates will make his job harder to defeat them.

He hopes, however, the large number of businesses not only contributing to his effort but actively speaking out against the measures will do the trick.

“Everything is worrisome in this atmosphere, but I think we’re going to need every nickel to break through,” he said. “Businesses are stepping up to the plate because they realize this is not just the future of the state, it’s the future of business and their business that’s in question. These are three very complicated subjects.”


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