October 29, 2021 | NEWS | By April Kwan | Illustration by Kira Schulist

It’s that time of the year again. Time to vote! 

This election follows last year’s 2020 Presidential election, which was a nation-defining moment. With less attention, it’s easy for a state election to fall in the shadows behind the 2020 election. Voting initiatives are seemingly less prevalent for state elections, and sometimes lack the intense stimulation and conversations that surround presidential elections. Nonetheless, voting is just as important in this election. 

On the Colorado College campus, groups like the Campus Vote Project and CC Votes emphasize the value of voting as a student. Campus Vote Project’s website states that “Students are the most crucial voting group for the country’s future. Nationwide, young adults (including students) comprise nearly a quarter of the electorate and will soon replace Baby Boomers as the single largest voting cohort in the country.” 

Yet, with this in mind, “students vote at lower rates than nearly every other demographic, diluting their ability to act on the most important issues of our time.” 

On Nov. 2, 2021 Colorado voters have three proposed policies to decide upon. Below is a brief overview of voting guidelines and what to expect on the ballot. 

The state-wide policies on the upcoming ballot include: 

Amendment 78 (Initiative 19): Legislative Authority for Spending State Money 

This Amendment calls for the transfer of power to spend custodial money from the state treasurer to the state legislature. It would also create a Custodial Fund Transparency Account as a part of the Department of the Treasury. The Colorado State Legislature would allocate the spending money from the new fund after a public hearing each year.

Voting “yes” will require that all of Colorado’s spending be appointed by the state legislature and all custodial money to be put into a new fund and spent with input from the public. 

Voting “no” will let state agencies carry on spending custodial money and other money without allocation by the state legislature. 

The common argument for voting “yes” on Amendment 78 is that the public will be able to participate and will be transparently informed on how Colorado funds are spent. There will be an increase in accountability and transparency from the Colorado state government. This argument comes in response to the current attorney general, governor, and unelected administrators in state agencies spending large amounts of custodial money, mostly without public knowledge, participation, or information within public records. 

The common argument for voting “no” on Amendment 78 is that creating this additional step of public participation in the allocation process could delay or interrupt state services. The particular concern is with interrupting emergency funding to natural disasters like wildfires, or to public health. It also can result in the state receiving less grant money, because this additional measure risks Colorado’s competitiveness for grant awards. Lastly, this would put decision-making in the hands of the general public instead of experts in their programs and independent commissions. 

Proposition 119 (Initiative 25): Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program 

This proposition would create the Colorado Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program (LEAP), which seeks to make out-of-school learning opportunities (i.e. tutoring) more accessible and affordable. The Colorado Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program will be funded through raising retail marijuana taxes and other state funds. 

Voting “yes” will fund Colorado youth with financial aid in tutoring and other school enrichment activities and instruction via raising retail marijuana taxes and other existing state funds.                                                                                

Voting “no” will mean that the program is not created and is not funded. 

Common arguments for voting for Proposition 119 are that additional instruction outside of school like tutoring is needed because of the significant number of students that aren’t proficient in reading, writing, or math. School closures due to COVID-19 have increased this need, especially for low-income students. 

Moreover, this proposition would support the needs of all students while prioritizing low-income students on financial aid. It also creates an independent and bipartisan board to certify that outside-of-school instruction is qualified and accountable. This also will let families choose which tutors or what outside of school instruction would best fit their student.

Common arguments for voting against Proposition 119 are that using public money for outside-of-school educational needs will take away from investments in public schools, and that it’s up to school districts to make programs to provide additional learning and enrichment opportunities for children.

Additionally, raising retail marijuana sales tax will increase the gap in prices between legal marijuana and black-market marijuana, which will hurt retail marijuana businesses. The retail sales tax on marijuana already places a greater financial stress on low income individuals, and increasing the tax rate will only make this worse. 

Proposition 120 (Initiative 27): Property Tax Assessment Rate Reduction 

This proposition will lower property tax assessment rates for multi-family homes and lodging properties. Additionally, it authorizes the state to hold onto money that is over its spending limits based on the Colorado constitution if it is used to fund existing property tax exemptions. 

Voting “yes” will seek to lower tax assessment rates for lodging and multifamily homes. It will not change assessment rates for any other properties. 

Voting “no” will seek to maintain the current assessment rates for lodging and multifamily housing. 

The common argument for voting “yes” for Proposition 120 is that it will provide some relief on rent pressures and encourage investment in Colorado’s housing shortage. This tax relief is important for portions of Colorado’s economy. For lodging, it could allow owners to hire more employees to reduce lodging rates and attract more visitors to Colorado. 

The common argument for voting “no” for Proposition 120 is that reducing some of Colorado’s tax revenue risks cuts to other important government services. Districts that rely on the revenue from property taxes from lodging and multifamily housing risk a decrease in funding for their education, transportation, water, and emergency services. 

On a more local level, Colorado Springs and El Paso country have policies on the upcoming ballot. 

El Paso County Ballot Issue 1A

It has been proposed for El Paso County to refund ~$7.1 million to property taxpayers from excess money from El Paso County’s revenue from 2020. This action is proposed without the need to raise existing tax rates or impose any new taxes. The second part of the proposal authorizes El Paso County to retain and spend revenue that exceeds the TABOR limitations, but no more than El Paso County’s revenue cap. In addition, the first $15 million of excess revenue will be used for park, preservation, and roadwork projects. 

Voting “yes” will allow El Paso to retain and spend revenue that’s above the TABOR limit, but below the county revenue limit, with $15 million used for park, preservation, and roadwork projects. 

Voting “no” will not allow El Paso to retain and spend above the TABOR limit.

City of Colorado Springs Ballot Issue 2C

It has been proposed that Colorado Springs taxes increase by $11,134,000 per year, starting on Jan. 1, 2022. This will be done by raising taxes and rate of sales on spaces like trails, parks and open space. The current rate is .1% for every $10 purchase. It’s proposed to increase to .2% for every $10. Exceptions include food, prescription drugs and other aspects that relate to preserving or protecting nature. 

Voting “yes” will increase tax on trails, parks, and open spaces from .1% to .2% while increasing the city sales. 

Voting “no” will not increase tax on trails, parks, and open spaces.

City of Colorado Springs Ballot Issue 2D

It has been proposed that Colorado Springs retains and spends up to $20,000,000 on wildfire mitigation and a prevention program, which will be under the supervision of the Colorado Springs Fire Department. This new program will not increase any existing taxes or implement any new tax. 

Voting “yes” supports the creation of a $20 million wildfire mitigation and prevention program managed by the Colorado Springs Fire Department. 

Voting “no” opposes the creation of a $20 million wildfire mitigation and prevention program managed by the Colorado Springs Fire Department. 

Colorado Springs School District 11 Ballot Issue 4B

It has been proposed that the debt from Colorado Springs School District 11 be increased by $350 million and have a maximum repayment cost of $590 million. This money would be for repairing and supplying school facilities, other district purchases/improvements, and the purchase/improvement for district charter school buildings. 

Additionally, the ballot measure authorizes the revenue from the district’s bond elections in 1996 and 2004 to be spent on debt repayment at this election on top of the debt authorized from previous elections. Lastly it allows District 11 to have a citizen’s oversight committee to annually review and report to the public about funds as a system of accountability. 

Voting “yes” supports School District 11 authorizing $350 million in bonds for school facilities and improvements. 

Voting “no” opposes School District 11 authorizing $350 million in bonds for school facilities and improvements. 

How to vote

Ballots are arriving via mail and should be mailed back with an adequate amount of time for it to arrive and before 7 p.m. on election night, Nov. 2. in order to be counted. 

To check your ballot’s status, go to govotecolorado.gov to check your voter registration status, the mailing status of your ballot, and a sample ballot. Ballots can be further tracked to check whether or not it’s been counted or received by your country through colorado.ballottrax.net. 

In-person voting is also available and the closest location to Colorado College is 1.5 miles away at: 

Centennial Hall

200 S. Cascade Ave

Colorado Springs, CO 80903

The hours for Centennial Hall for Nov. 2 are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

For more information regarding the 2021 Nov. 2. election, you can visit govotecolorado.gov.

For more information about Colorado Springs City elections, you can visit coloradosprings.gov

For more information about voting as a CC student, you can visit CC Votes.

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