The Countdown Begins, One Month Until Election 2015
Today marks one month until Election Day 2015, so it’s time to start bringing you some news you can use to help you cast your vote on November 3.
Leadville Today is going to start at the top with state officials and ballot issues. Thankfully, that little blue booklet that registered voters received in the mail last week – known formally as the “2015 State Ballot Information Booklet,” was lean and mean.
This year, the election analysis publication contained information on the ONLY statewide measure: Proposition BB – or, in short – “Retains Revenue in Excess of Blue Book Estimate.” For Colorado politicos in the know, this measure deals with TABOR, known more formally as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Gov. John Hickenlooper makes his pitch for Prop BB support at the historic Tabor Opera House last July. Photo: Brennan Ruegg/Leadville Today.
A YES vote allows the state to retain and spend $66.1 million, which has already been collected, rather than refund it to the taxpayers. A NO vote on Prop BB would issue tax refunds ranging from $6-16, depending on adjusted gross income.
Leadville Today asked Colorado State Representative Millie Hamner to weigh-in on Proposition BB. Hamner has been representing Lake County for the past 5 years, first in House District 56 when she was appointed to the seat after it was vacated early in the term, and since then, in the re-districted House District 61 which includes Summit, Lake, and Pitkin counties, along with parts of Gunnison and Delta counties.
This year, Rep. Hamner will serve as the Chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee, which writes the long bill that becomes the state budget for the 2016 Legislative Session. So, if you think that balancing your household or business budget is challenging, try doing it under the watchful eyes of 3.5 million registered Colorado voters, along with the special interests and lobbyist groups, all posturing to keep the funds in their coffers. Good luck, Rep. Hamner.
To that end, the following is an op-ed piece from Rep Millie Hamner addressing voters on the Proposition BB. At the end of her article Leadville Today posted a video of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s late July visit where touted the state’s successes stories that he’d like to see some of that tax revenue spent on should Prop BB pass.
Rep. Millie Hamner Weighs in on Proposition BB
Representative Millie Hamner
I’ve had a little time to reflect on the 2015 legislative session and am already looking forward to the 2016 session.
I’m a member of the Joint Budget Committee, which produced a 2015-16 state budget that is balanced, bipartisan and responsible. It preserves critical priorities of the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate, and it provides funding for vital services that help address the growing needs of our state and strengthen the middle class across Colorado.
I will become chairwoman of the JBC in November when we begin preparing the state budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year, and I hope the next budget will serve the people of Colorado as well as the current one is doing.
But the next budget will be especially difficult because, even though most parts of the state are thriving and we’ll have more than $11 billion in the general fund, essentially all of that money is already spoken for. We’ll have trouble maintaining — let alone improving — the services the people of Colorado count on our state government to provide.
Why? Because we’ve hit the TABOR wall.
Colorado’s economy is heading up the pass at 65 mph, but, because of the constitutional revenue caps known as the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, our state’s ability to provide services is crawling along in the slow lane with its flashers on.
We could afford to spend more to provide the best education for our kids, improve our roads and bridges and spur economic development beyond the Front Range. Instead, TABOR requires that we refund a portion of the state taxes we collect.
I know it’s nice to get a check in the mail. But I think we need to have a conversation about whether it’s better to have an extra $17 — that’s the average size of the TABOR refund we’ll receive in 2016 — or some extra money for schools and roads, to name just two high-priority categories of state spending.
Representative Mille Hamner makes a 2014 campaign stop in Leadville with a few political animals. Photo: Leadville Today.
We also need to debate the implications of the recent Colorado State University study that found that 81 percent of Colorado property owners are paying more taxes as a result of TABOR, not less.
I don’t expect this conversation to be an easy one, and I do expect it to generate a lot of hot air down in Denver. Gov. John Hickenlooper and members of the legislature will certainly be involved. But I’m hoping Coloradans in all corners of the state — including our mountain counties — will get their say, too.
Please tell me your concerns and priorities. You can contact my office at (303) 866-2952 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With your input, I’ll be better able to represent you down in Denver. Together, we’ll come up with what’s best for Colorado and its people, and we’ll strike the right balance between the needs of a growing, increasingly prosperous state and our Western tradition of low taxes.
The newly formed Leadville Chapter of the Colorado Democratic Women’s Caucus poses for a picture after the their first meeting at the Twin Lakes Inn on Sept. 29. The newly formed statewide group hopes to bring more women into politics.
Hickenlooper Poses TABOR Reprieve on Stage of Tabor
Gov. Hickenlooper’s July 2015 visit to Leadville took place on the stage of the historic Tabor Opera House as he took his “Vote Yes on Prop BB” message to the streets. And while the TABOR connection did not go unnoticed in a town where political grandstanding has deep roots, it’s still cool to see a sitting Governor on the historic theater’s stage (the last, perhaps?) He opened his presentation by playing the Knabe Grand Piano, with one of those beautifully hand-painted curtains (the street scene) as a backdrop. Check out this Leadville Today video to hear his speech, letting his “pitch” speak for itself.
Still Time to Register to Vote in November’s Election!
According to Lake County Clerk and Recorder Patty Berger, anyone wishing to register to vote can do so up to Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 and receive a mail ballot. After the October 26 registration can be done in the Clerk’s Office or on-line. Voting will have to take place at the Voter Service and Polling Center.
Another important note for November’s election is that property owners may request a ballot if the person is registered to vote in Colorado and owns property or is the spouse of someone that owns property in Lake County for the hospital question only.