Are you wondering how to vote in the Mesa County Coordinated Election on Tuesday, November 2, 2021? Are you sweating about where you’re going to find the time to research all the state and local ballot measures?
I’ve done the work for you.
AnneLandmanBlog has read and researched the ballot measures, looked into who is behind getting them on the ballot, who backs them, who supports them, what their motives are and what each measure would change.
The state ballot measures are fairly complicated this election, but I did my best to distill them down to their essence to save readers time.
Based on what I found, here are my summaries and recommended votes:
Amendment 78 – A constitutional amendment that needs 55% of the vote to pass: NO:
Amendment 78 would change how all money the state receives is spent by designating the state legislature as the ONLY entity able to decide how it all gets spent. The way things are now, state agencies spend money allocated to them as they see fit, putting the money where they believe it most needs to go, without the legislatures’ involvement. Amendment 78 would end that. It would also end the ability of elected officials, like the Attorney General and the Governor, to decide how non-tax funds get spent, for example federal money that came to the state help people cope with the pandemic.
Amendment 78 is backed by Michael Fields, former state director of Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a tea party group that belongs to a network of 501(c)(4) “dark money” groups linked to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. AFP has worked to block action on climate change, fought automobile efficiency standards, plotted to kill public transit projects and opposed health care reform. In August 2021, Charles Koch was ranked as the 20th richest person in the world.
So this measure appeals to people who agree ideologically with Michael Fields, Americans for Prosperity and the Koch brothers.
Proposition 119 (Statutory measure) –
A qualified YES, and possible NO due to the redirection of $22 million in existing funding away from general school funding:
Prop 119 will primarily affect users of retail cannabis and the cannabis industry as a whole.
Prop 119 will incrementally increase the state sales tax on retail cannabis to 5% by 2024. Currently the state tax on cannabis is 15%. The money would be used to fund before and after-school tutoring and care programs for low income children.
While that does sound good, Proposition 119 would also transfer $22 million out of the State Land Trust to help pay for these new programs, and that is money that would otherwise be directed to general school funding, so the measure would siphon off some money from public schools.
If the measure passes, at first just teachers and existing school employees would be funded to carry out these programs. Eventually the measure would set up a committee to screen individuals and entities to assure they are qualified to receive the funds.
Unsurprisingly, the cannabis industry as a whole opposes the measure, saying taxes on retail cannabis are already at 15-20%, depending on the local taxes in a given jurisdiction. When asked about this measure, an employee of a local retail cannabis store said, “We aren’t at liberty to talk about it. Read up on the measure, and make your own decision.”
If you buy a lot of retail cannabis products, the amount you will spend on your cannabis would increase under this measure, so you might feel like voting against it unless you feel generous. If you sell retail cannabis products, your selling prices will increase to cover the tax.
Some opponents say it would be better if the funds generated by Prop 119 would go to directly towards funding public schools, but that’s not the case with this measure.
But lower income kids in the state who lack access to resources outside the school system to help improve their education would be the beneficiaries of the added expense, so voters have to weigh how they are impacted vs. their goodwill towards kids in the state who could benefit from these funds.
Proposition 120 (Statutory measure) – NO.
Proposition 120 would reduce the property tax rate charged on a narrow subset of property types, specifically multi-family and lodging properties like hotels and bed and breakfast establishments, from 7.15% to 6.5%. It is estimated this measure would cut the state’s property tax revenue by $1.03 billion in 2023. These cuts could reduce the amount of state funds going to local governments for things like fire departments, local schools, libraries, water and sewer districts, etc. Proponents say it would help people struggling to pay property taxes.
Mesa County Ballot Issue 1A: YES
Mesa County Ballot Issue 1 A imposes a 5% tax on the first sale of unprocessed cannabis by a cultivation facility. Use of the funds generated will be up the to County Commissioners, but they are supposed to go towards mental health and substance abuse services “and/or related governmental services.”
Mesa County Ballot Question 1B: YES
Ballot Question 1B would allow the county to provide cable and internet services and/or work with a private partner to provide it. It would allow a cable/internet system spearheaded by the County to compete with local cable and internet providers. The measure lets the County opt out of a 2005 law that prevented local government from providing these services unless voters opted them out of the 2005 law. It would allow local government to provide improved or expanded broadband service, and build their own infrastructure if they want. By 2017, 29 of Colorado’s 64 counties had opted out of this law, and 66 of 270 municipalities have opted out. The measure might help bring competition to the local cable/internet market. This measure would not increase taxes.
Mesa County Ballot Question 1C: YES
Allows cultivation and testing of cannabis in the unincorporated county.
Mesa County Valley School District 51 Ballot Issue 4B: YES.
Ballot Measure 4B is a bond measure to finance construction of a new Grand Junction High School. It would increase property taxes about $3/month for every $300,000 worth of value of people’s homes.
There’s no way around it. This building is a decrepit hell hole and desperately needs to be replaced. We have to do better by kids in Grand Junction, especially at the town’s namesake school.