CFPI to Pull Ballot Initiatives

It was a beautiful day yesterday, but I opted to stay indoors for a bit to attend one of the State Budget Listening Tour events in Lowry. I had heard that most of the meetings in other parts of the state were well attended. Ours was no exception.

The crowd sounded off to members of the Colorado legislature on a variety of topics; prisons, mental health services, child poverty, medicaid, and above all, the need to raise more revenue. The attendees overwhelmingly agreed that the state is in a systemic, long-term crisis that can only be solved by constitutional reform and shared sacrifice from Colorado’s taxpayers.

Several teachers choked back tears as they talked about class sizes swelling to 38 students and the enormity of the cuts to their districts. Mental health workers described how patients are entering prison in the absence of adequate state services. Even a few Republicans in the crowd were practically begging legislators to avoid cuts to vital services. The town hall was exactly what I expected in the wake of large cuts, though it was still hard to hear some of the stories.

I did not expect to hear what the last speaker, Marijo Rymer, had to say. One of the key proponents for Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute’s ballot measures, she announced that she would be removing all of the proposed ballot measures from the legislative council process. She stated her reasons clearly and concisely; a lack of positive polling, an inability to raise big money and a hostile political climate were all contributing reasons to pull the measures.

It seems inevitable that the most vulnerable of our state have a hard couple of years ahead of them. Sen. Rollie Heath’s attempt to raise $400 million over 3 years seems too meager to back-fill cuts, not worth the effort of a full-fledged campaign and merely a band-aid for long-term fiscal problems. 2012 hardly seems like the year to put a tax hike or constitutional reform on the ballot. The advantages of this year- cheap air time, a short ballot and low turnout- will have disappeared. And once again, Coloradans in favor of sanity will be on the defensive from the sadistic attempts of Jon Caldera to force his misplaced ideological views upon our fair state. God help us.

In the coming years our tax rates, among the lowest in the nation, will clash with our state’s growing need for state services. Colorado’s voters will have to learn one thing the hard way; you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavidThi808 says:

    I didn’t know they were even looking for money yet. Damn.

    • I’ll probably support Sen. Heath’s effort, but I agree – it’s too little and too targeted.  On the other hand, it’s extremely limited duration may give it a boost at the polls (at the probable expense of having to face the real problem at all for three years…).

  2. madmike says:

    I had signed up to help, too.  I wish they would have given it more time.

  3. cunninjo says:

    As someone who’s been through the ballot initiative process before, I know the biggest obstacle is time. Proponents get about 3 months to collect around 100,000 signatures (you must account for 20-30% of sigs to be invalid). It breaks down to about 1,000 signatures a day. An ambitious goal would be to average 10 signatures per hour, per person. That means you need 100 man hours per day, every day, for 3 months.

    To pull that off you either need an army of volunteers across the state who don’t work and can spend all their time collecting signatures, or huge amounts of money to pay a company to collect them for you at about 50 cents a signature. If you don’t have enough people interested in what you are proposing then you’ll fall short on money and volunteers.

    Personally, I think we need to focus on going after the heart of TABOR itself, not simply a tax increase. While it may seem unlikely, it is probably easier to get the legislature to pass a tax hike than it is to get a tax increase on the ballot and have it pass. Progressives have don a good job of attaching a negative connotation to TABOR. I’d love to see someone at least try and take it down.

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