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Our View: Ballot initiatives

Amendment D – 18th Judicial District – YES

Amendment D is necessary and should be approved.

Colorado’s newly formed 23rd Judicial District – Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties roughly southeast between Denver and Colorado Springs – is a portion of the current 18th District. A “yes” vote allows the governor to reassign judges, making the 23rd operational.

Amendment E – Gold Star property tax exemption – YES

We often say the Colorado Constitution is practically sacrosanct, so we’d better have a pretty good reason to want to change it. And it’s Amendment E.

Amendment E reduces property taxes for surviving spouses of U.S. Armed Forces service members who died in the line of duty and vets who died as a result of service-related injuries or diseases. The existing homestead exemption for disabled vets would expand to include these surviving spouses, of which there are an estimated 490.

Currently, spouses of 100% disabled vets keep the homestead exemption when vets die, but there is no exemption if spouses are killed while serving in the military. Amendment E addresses that inconsistency and rights this wrong.

Amendment F – Charitable gaming - NO

Amendment F reduces from five to three the minimum number of years a nonprofit must be operating in the state to apply for a bingo-raffle license, and authorizes the Legislature to set a different requirement in 2025. A “yes” vote allows bingo-raffle workers to be paid, too.

Permitting less-established nonprofits to run bingo-raffle games doesn’t seem a worthy reason to amend the Constitution.

Proposition FF – Healthy school meals - YES

During the pandemic, one wake-up call came from our schools – we learned students were hungry.

When temporary pandemic aid made school meals free last year, Colorado school districts saw 20% to 40% more students participating, according to Hunger Free Colorado.

Proposition FF: Healthy School Meals for All not only provides breakfast and lunch for all public school students, it helps schools purchase high-quality nutritious food directly from Colorado farmers and rancher. Proposition FF makes sense for families and strengthens our rural Southwest economy.

The funding plan for Proposition FF is reasonable. And very much worth it.

Proposition GG – Table for tax changes – YES

Proposition GG may go down in history as the absolute easiest bipartisan choice on the ballot.

It requires a tax information table to appear on petitions and ballots of citizen-initiated measures that change the income tax rate. No partisan spins. Just numbers.

Something as simple as this income-category table empowers voters to better understand tax changes.

Proposition 121 – Reduce income tax - NO

Proposition 121 reduces the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%.

Proponents of the reduction point to the excess revenue that the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is returning to taxpayers this year, and will next year.

Those earning $1 million or more will receive almost half the total tax savings – an average of about $7,000. A reduction of 0.15% means a savings of $47 for those making $40,000 to $50,000, and $89 for those making $70,000 to $1,000,000.

Not a lot, in other words. Better to retain the 4.55% rate and make refunds, if required.

Proposition 122 – Mushrooms for medicine – YES

In the treatment of mental health, psilocybin is too promising to ignore. For this reason, along with legalization’s removal of a criminal element, we support passing Proposition 122 (previously Initiative 58), the measure to legalize psychedelic mushrooms and create a system of state-licensed healing centers with trained facilitators.

Benefits outweigh risks, according to a plethora of scientific study results.

Also called the Natural Medicine Health Act, Proposition 122 opens doors to health for people who haven’t found anything that works. Passing Proposition 122 is a compassionate choice.

Proposition 123 – Affordable housing - YES

The lack of affordable housing in the Southwest affects everything. Now, voters can say yes to a common-sense, thorough ballot measure that jump-starts affordable housing.

Proposition 123 will put about $300 million a year of existing state revenues toward housing. A yes vote supports creating the State Affordable Housing Fund and dedicating one-tenth of 1% (0.1%) of state income tax revenue to fund housing programs.

This would mean funding about 10,000 affordable housing units per year around the state. Proposition 123 would put us on the path to getting a handle on the housing crisis within 20 years. If the economy were to take a dive, a mechanism to turn off this spending would be in place.

Proposition 123 would not raise taxes. Instead, it sets aside some revenues. Nothing is free and taxpayers would see a cost to their Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds with money coming from this pool. For example, our TABOR refund this summer was $750. With Proposition 123, we could expect that check to be $707. Not bad, if this means our workers and seniors could afford places to live.

Proposition 124 – Increase liquor store licenses – NO

Proposition 123 would increase the number of liquor store locations with no limit on stores after 2037. We’re imagining larger chains. We are definitely pro-business, but we don’t see how Proposition 123 benefits consumers. No, thanks on this one.

Proposition 125 – Wine in grocery stores – NO

We like convenience as much as the next person. Although we imagine middle-priced wines in groceries, we know that small, locally owned liquor stores also sell wine priced in this range.

We’ll skip buying booze at the grocery store and go to our small, local businesses instead.

Proposition 126 – Third-party delivery of alcohol – YES

Proposition 126 allows businesses that sell alcohol to deliver liquor through third-party companies. The closer we looked, the more it made sense.

Proposition 126 outlines clear requirements for third-party delivery companies. And if it means our local restaurants and bars can keep their doors open more easily, we’re for it.

Ballot 2A – Durango excess lodgers tax revenue

With Ballot Issue No. 2A, Durangoans have a real shot at making affordable housing happen. This year, the city predicts it will have about $1.1 million in excess funds for both last year and this year.

After housing, transportation, parking and the arts would get the serious attention funding brings. We can do good things if Ballot 2a passes.