FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 13, 2018
Contact: Curtis Hubbard, firstname.lastname@example.org
The following Joint Statement was released today by Colorado Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays and Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party Morgan Carroll
"Colorado has long been a national role model for fair, secure elections. Proposed redistricting initiative ballot measures Amendments Y & Z continue in that tradition.
Passage of these measures would make Colorado the nation’s leader in implementing fair, good government redistricting. If citizens vote to pass both measures, Colorado will become the first state to have an equal number of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters on independent commissions that redraw legislative and congressional boundaries.
Amendments Y & Z would provide state constitutional protections against partisan and racial gerrymandering and would give Colorado a level of protection against partisan overreach, regardless of who holds the political reins.
These ballot measures also level the playing field so Colorado can have confidence that the commissions deciding on the maps for the state legislature and the U.S. Congress look like the people of Colorado, and the process they follow is fair, open and representative.
Colorado can make history in November. We can be proud that so many people have come together in a bipartisan manner to give an equal voice to Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters in redrawing legislative and congressional boundaries."
For additional information, visit FairMapsColorado.com
League of Women Voters of Estes Park
2018 Ballot Issues Statewide, Larimer County and Estes Valley
Amendment Y – Congressional Redistricting Support
Amendment Z – Legislative Redistricting Support
Amendment 73 – Funding for Public Schools Support
Ballot Issue 1A – Mental/Behavioral Health Initiative Support
Ballot Issue 6A – Measure to Authorize Mill Levy Rate Adjustment for the
Estes Valley Fire District No Position
League of Women Voters of Colorado
Additional Advocacy Positions Not Listed Above
2018 Colorado Statewide Ballot Issues
Amendment V – Lower Age Requirement for Members of State Legislature No Position
Amendment W – Election Ballot Format for Judicial Retention Elections Support
Amendment X – Industrial Hemp Definition No Position
Amendment A – Prohibit Slavery & Involuntary Servitude in All Circumstances Support
Amendment 74 – Just Compensation for Fair Market Value Oppose
Amendment 75 – Campaign Contributions Oppose
Proposition 109 – Authorize Bonds for Transportation Projects Oppose
Proposition 110 – Transportation Funding (sales tax increase) Support
Proposition 111 – Limitation on PayDay Loans Support
Proposition 112 – Setback Requirements for Oil and Gas Development Support
LWVCO Advocacy Detail: LWVCO Ballot Position Details
Mental Health Matters!
By Alice Reuman, guest columnist
On July 24, the Larimer County Commission voted unanimously to place a proposal on the November general election ballot for imposition of a 0.25% county-wide sales and use tax for the purpose of providing services for mental health and substance use disorders for residents of Larimer County. It is critical that this measure succeed. Here’s why.
Nationally in the US, it is estimated that about 21% of all adults experienced a mental illness in the past year. According to the Pew Research Center, 46% of Americans have a family member or close friend who has been addicted to drugs, a form of mental illness. Indeed, the US Surgeon General says “Mental Illness is more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease.” But it is estimated that 60% of people with mental illnesses go untreated.
Right here in Larimer County, where 14% of Larimer County residents have reported 8 or more days of poor mental health in the previous 30 days, over 65,000 residents – including children, youth, veterans, friends, family, and neighbors – go without the mental health care they need.
But poor mental health and addiction cost all of us in so many ways: reduced and lost earnings, absenteeism, reduced productivity, increased crime, homelessness, higher suicide rates, chronic physical illnesses, reduced public safety, costly hospitalizations, increased incarceration, and many others.
We know that over-reliance on hospitals and jails is both the most expensive andthe least effective way to treat mental illness. In Larimer County, for example, a 2015 study showed that 9 of 10 “frequent utilizers” of the county jail had a substance use problem and nearly half had mental illness. Arrests in Estes Park contribute to these statistics. Nor is frequent hospitalization the answer – one trip to an emergency room costs approximately $2500 per visit and the ambulance trip to get there approximately $1200.
What is the answer? Treatment! Based on studies done in several states, including Florida, New Jersey, Oregon, and South Dakota, the National Institute of Health estimates that every dollar spent on addiction treatment programs yields a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced health, crime, criminal justice costs, and impaired work.
While behavioral health problems are widespread, solutions are local. Larimer County has implemented some good programs. For example, Larimer County’s Alternatives to Incarceration for Individuals with Mental Health Needs (AIIM) program has reduced jail bed days among this population by 60%. Just this year, Larimer County received a grant for a Co-Responder Program
Why All Coloradans Should Vote for Redistricting Amendments Y & Z
By Liz Zornes, Guest columist
Efforts to end the practice of drawing district lines to purposely favor one political party over another, known as gerrymandering, has been sweeping the country, including in Colorado.
With a new Census around the corner and the exploding population growth which may give Colorado an eighth congressional seat in 2022, the Colorado General Assembly referred two measures to the November ballot. Known as Amendments Y and Z, these measures passed the Colorado legislature by an unprecedented vote of 100 to 0. Amendment Y addresses Congressional Redistricting and Amendment Z addresses legislative redistricting.
Under the current Colorado Constitution, in the case of Congressional districts, the state legislature is responsible for dividing the state into its seven Congressional districts following the census. Failure to complete the map results in court intervention. Amendment Y transfers authority to redraw congressional maps from the Legislature to an Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission.
In the case of Colorado legislative districts, these districts (35 state senators and 65 state representatives) are redrawn every 10 years following the census. The districts are divided to have nearly equal population in each district. Since 1974, the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, consisting of 11 members, has convened to draw a new state legislative district map after the census. Amendment Z establishes a new process for state legislative redistricting, replacing the Colorado Reapportionment Commission with an Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission. This is a similar but separate process from the congressional redistricting proposal in Amendment Y.
Under both amendments, an Independent Redistricting Commission, one Congressional and one Legislative, would be created to amend and approve the maps. Both amendments specify that the Commission consists of 12 members, 4 from the state’s largest political party (currently the Democratic party), 4 from the state’s second largest political party (currently the Republican party) and 4 who are not affiliated with any political party. The amendments also set qualifications and establishes a process for selecting commissioners, sets standards for transparency and ethics as well as a procedure for judicial review of the maps. In the case of Amendment Y, it establishescriteria that the Commission must use for drawing Colorado’s congressional district maps and in the case on Amendment Z, it expands the criteria that the Commission must use for adopting state legislative district maps.
The League of Women Voters of Colorado supports both of these amendments because both proposals limit the role of partisan politics in the redistricting process by establishing independent commissions made up of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. It makes the process of redistricting more transparent and provides an opportunity for public participation. The amendment creates fair criteria for the drawing of congressional and legislative districts, prioritizing communities of interest and maximizing political competitiveness. The League of Women Voters encourages all voting citizens to vote “yes” for Amendments Y & Z.
Support For Amendment 73
by Judi Smith, guest columist
There is every reason to be concerned about the state of education in Colorado.
For the last 9 years, Colorado’s education system has been under-funded. By 2015, we are below the national average by $2783 per student. Colorado teacher salaries are among the lowest in the USA. Too many of our teachers cannot afford to live in the community where they teach. Over 1/3 of the Colorado school districts have instituted a 4-day week. For most of these, it has been an economic decision. Colorado gained over 9,000 students from 2009-10 to 2010-11, and reduced the number of teachers by 500. Rutgers Education law School gave Colorado an F for effort on school funding.
While it is true that money does not necessarily determine a great education, still it is difficult to do so without sustainable funds. When under-funded, teacher salaries suffer, class size increases, class choices evaporate, and student extra curricular activities become limited. http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html (2016)
Amendment 73 dictates that decisions on spending Amendment 73 funds MUST be made locally.
In 1980, Colorado exceeded the national average spent to educate students – by $232 per student. The Gallagher Amendment in 1982 and TABOR in 1992 limited Colorado’s ability to tax. The amount per student began to fall. In 2000, when Colorado per student spending was about $700 below the national average, the citizens passed Amendment 23, which set a minimum amount of $6546 per student and mandated an annual raise by inflation plus 1% in an effort to regain lost funding. It also created a State Education Fund supported by income tax and required legislative increases to education spending. By 2009 the amount was $7077 per student, only $1400 less than the national average.
With Gallagher and TABOR, Colorado did not have the funds to meet ALL of the necessary programs for the State of Colorado. The Colorado Legislature applied a negative “budget stabilization factor” to the per student rate, undercutting the minimum cost of education established by Amendment 23.
School Superintendents from Districts across Colorado collaborated to address a better way to fund our schools. 170 of the 178 Colorado School Superintendents agree that Amendment 73 is the best answer.
Under current law, the residential assessment rate is the inconsistent result of a complex mathematical formula. More houses, people, and students do not increase property tax collected. There are problems with Gallagher that still need to be addressed, but here is an opportunity to remove Education from that equation. F or education only: Amendment 73 will lower the nonresidential assessment rate by 5%, from 29% to 24%, and it will set a standardized residential assessment rate at 7%, lower than the current rate of 7.2%, but more importantly, it will no longer “float”. Property taxes will be more predictable.
To provide additional money for schools, the Amendment would create a graduated income tax. The increased tax (over and above the existing 4.63%) would be used solely for education. C-Corporations would pay an additional 1.37% in tax. For personal income: the first $150,000 would remain at 4.63% as it is now. The tax rate increase on the next $50,000 would be 37/100 of 1% (or a maximum of $185). Five percent of Colorado’s residents would pay higher rates on incomes over $200,000.
The “budget stabilization factor” reducedthe Estes Park school budgets by $791 per student for 2018-19, and Amendment 73 would have increasedOUR school funding by $1666 per student for a total of $1,800,000. The League of Women Voters of Estes Park urges you to use the tax calculator at www.casb.org/Page/754to calculate the effect of the changes to tax on YOUR income and property valuation. Then consider your personal values and decide if the benefits to education from Amendment 73 are worthy of your vote.
Access www.greateducation.orgfor more information.
League of Women Voters Denver
League of Women Voters of Colorado has endorsed Amendment 73: Great Schools, Thriving Communities.Colorado currently funds our public schools at a rate $2800 below the national average at a time when our economy ranks fourth among the states. Our teacher salaries are near, if not at the bottom (below Mississippi and Alabama).
This amendment raises $1.6 billion per year for our public schools to help recover the almost $1 billion that has been reduced from the state school budget every year since the Great Recession. The funds are raised through a combination of a graduated income tax (League supports a progressive income tax) on taxable incomes above $150,000 (personal and C corporations) and balancing that with a tweaking of the Gallagher Amendment (halting the ratcheting down of residential property taxes and lowering the commercial property tax rate from 29% to 24%). Colorado School Finance Project has developed an impact calculatorfor voters to determine the personal effects on their taxes. Contrary to what you may hear, the nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff has ruled that Amendment 73 only impacts school districts. Amendment 73does not impact special districts, including fire departments. This has also been validated by the Colorado Secretary of State.
The League has long supported a school finance system that includes: adequate sources of revenue, support for high-cost programs for students with special needs, and equity for students, taxpayers and school districts. Until the state legislature updates the school finance act (last done in 1994), the funds from this measure would be more equitably distributed with an emphasis on district rates of special needs, at-risk, English language learners, and gifted children. All funds will be directed into the Quality Education Fund, to supplement, not supplant normal school funding. Local districts will decide how to spend new revenue from Amendment 73.Colorado Association of School Boards (CASBE) has created CASB factsheets that show district-level impact.
What local Leagues and individuals can do to support Amendment 73:
Follow the campaign on socialmedia and join in on the hashtag campaign (print out your district's poster and take a picture of you with it, with a quote about supporting A73, or simply make it your profile picture).
Encourage your local schoolboard to sign on to support Amendment 73.
Encourage members to write letters to the editorof your local newspapers.
Complete a training via the Yes on 73 speaker's bureau: We need statewide representatives and organizers!To complete a training, please sign up at the link here.We will be having trainings (with call-in options!) through ballots dropping on October 15th, on Tuesdays from 12-1:30pm and Thursdays from 6-7:30pm, beginning next Thursday the 20th. Sign up on the form, or send your contacts and colleagues to this form, and Hailey and Anna will be in touch.
Get involved with CEA's Day of Action on October 5th - taking it to the streets! Educators, students, parents and community members will line “main” streets all across Colorado in support of Amendment 73. If you'd like to be involved with the Day of Action, contact email@example.com.
Host an event or organize in your neighborhood: Interested in being a local organizer in any capacity? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org learn more. We have many options to engage and we need your help to get this passed in November!
P.O. Box 564
Estes Park, CO 80517