All three statewide ballot initiatives fail


All three statewide ballot initiatives failed to get the necessary voter support to be adopted in the November 2 election.

Amendment 78 asked voters to approve a change to both the Colorado Constitution and state law to require all money received by the state, “including money provided to the state for a particular purpose, known as custodial money, to be subject to appropriation by the general assembly” and “repealing the authority to disburse money from the state treasury by any other means.” There was also language about how to handle the earnings on funds that would have been affected by this change of policy. 

The measure lost 57% to 43%. It is quite possible that voters were not sure who the winners and losers would be in this change of law, policy, and our Constitution, and that was reason enough to say no. 

Statewide Proposition 119 enjoyed wide support of elected officials from both political parties, from Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, to former Governor Bill Owens, Colorado’s last Republican head of state. It would have raised almost $138 million annually from new taxes on retail marijuana sales. That amount and another $20 million from the public schools land trust would have been used by a newly-created independent state agency comprised of nine governor-appointed board members who would have used that money to pay for out-of-school broadly defined academic and enrichment opportunities chosen by parents. Every student in the state would have been eligible for direct payments to tutors or other service providers of up to $1,500 per year, although priority was to be given to the state’s lowest-income students. While the measure lost 54% to 46% statewide, Arapahoe County voters supported it 51% to 49%. Some voters were concerned about the many things for which the money could be used, as well as the amount. The fact that this statewide program was not connected to the Colorado Department of Education also raised concerns for some people.

Proposition 120 asked voters if they wanted to permanently lower the assessment rate on residential properties, which is currently 7.15%, to 6.5%, and the rate on commercial properties, which is now 29%, to 26.4%. As petition-passers were out in front of local grocery stores around the state getting signatures to support this proposal last year, the general assembly passed a law temporarily lowering the residential property tax rate to 6.95% for single-family homes and 6.8% for multi-family homes. The law passed by the generally assembly also temporarily lowered the assessment rate to the same 26.4% as was cited in the ballot issue for some commercial properties. Since the language of Proposition 120 could not be changed at that point, the new state law threw its impact into such confusion that the nonpartisan Blue Book that many people rely on for unbiased information on the impact of a proposed change in law told Coloradans that if it passed, Proposition 120 would only apply to lodging and multi-family homes. Even sponsors of the ballot issue could not say with certainty how it would be applied if it passed. That was probably more than enough to account for the measure losing statewide 57% to 43%.