Bettina Magas: Vote ‘no’ on Amendment 73
As a retired teacher, I am a proponent of quality public education. However, Amendment 73 is not the route we should take. The claim is, schools will get a major financial increase, and it won’t cost the average taxpayer, because they are going to tax the rich and businesses. After much research I have discovered how very complicated this amendment is, as it interacts with the Gallagher Amendment passed in 1982, which requires a tax ratio of 45 percent residential property owner to 55 percent non-residential property owner. Currently half of all property taxes go to school districts and half to other taxing authorities — counties, cities and towns, library and museum districts, water districts, fire and health districts, to name a few.
Those supporting Amendment 73 will tell you only school district property taxes will be affected, but this is not true. As I said, it is very complicated, and I recommend all voters do their own research. Amendment 73 has to work within the Gallagher Amendment requirements; they cannot be bypassed. Supporters say that, because of the Gallagher Amendment, Amendment 73 has to be passed to get around it. This is not possible — an amendment is permanently in the State constitution, as 73 would be, so if it passed and didn’t work out, it can’t be changed!
Property taxes will have to be calculated with two separate rates to maintain the 45:55 Gallagher ratio, meaning more work for all. Property taxes are predicted to go down in 2019 to 6.11 percent. Amendment 73 will lock in property taxes at 7 percent forever — it cannot be changed. Some will claim that, if property taxes go up, property owners will pay less, but the chance for this happening is not worth all the negative effects of Amendment 73.
To implement the 7 percent tax rate in Amendment 73 there will have to be a reduction of tax revenue to the other taxing authorities mentioned above. This should concern all of us, as we are currently being asked to vote on a mill levy increase for the library and museum, along with the county and city both promising budget cuts.
The trend in government to tax the rich and businesses to solve all our financial problems is wrong. Success should not be punished. Higher taxes for the rich will discourage people from staying or coming to Colorado, and higher taxes for businesses will be passed on to consumers. Craig and Moffat County are working to increase business starts, and this will only discourage new businesses.
There are better ways to fund education than adding to the state constitution at the expense of all other tax funded services. Amendment 73 is not the answer and will only create more issues than anyone can possibly imagine. Again, do the research before you vote. I am confident you will vote “no” on Amendment 73.