As we all fill out our ballots this year in Colorado, there is a long list of ballot measures to consider, all of which have major implications for our state’s future. One measure in particular is generating a lot of confusion: Proposition 117.
If you’ve read the language of Proposition 117 three times and are still struggling to understand what exactly it does, you’re not alone. Because the language is so poorly written, the details of how it would work are ambiguous — opening the door to costly litigation and economic uncertainty that couldn’t come at a worse time
What is clear is that Proposition 117 would be deeply harmful to Colorado’s economic recovery. Its clear intention is to help corporate special interests avoid paying their fair share and instead pile additional economic burdens onto the people of Colorado. I strongly encourage Coloradans to vote No.
Proposition 117 would mandate a vote to create any new enterprise fund that collects revenues of more than $100 million over the first five years. Enterprise funds were created as part of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) in 1992. Doug Bruce himself recognized that some state services are only used by a few people or businesses and the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay for those services. We have Enterprise funds in Colorado to help run programs like our state parks and other important services. They are a critical tool to meet our state’s budget obligations.
One example of an existing enterprise is the Petroleum Storage Tank Fund, which assesses fees on companies and individuals that own these tanks. I personally don’t own a petroleum storage tank; I’m guessing most of you reading this do not either. The people and businesses who do have to pay fees cover the cost of environmental clean-up.
An important aspect of enterprise funds is the use of fees, instead of taxes. We all pay taxes for the general funding of roads, schools, and health care. Fees are a cost to an individual or company in exchange for a good or service. It’s only fair that petroleum storage tank operators pay the costs created by their operations in the form of a fee, rather than leaving the rest of us to pay these costs through our yearly taxes.
But if Proposition 117 passes, the corporations who should be responsible for enterprise fees will try to use the ballot box to avoid paying their share. The same corporate special interests who are funding Proposition 117 would have free rein to pour millions of dollars in dark money into our elections to stop any effort to pass new enterprise fees. More fear-mongering mailers and more misleading attacks on TV.
What does that mean exactly? It means that even if a fee is for a service most of us are not using, we will have to battle it out on the ballot with corporate special interests — and if we lose, every taxpayer in Colorado will end up on the hook to pay for things that most of us are not using. So instead of going to priorities like schools and roads, more of your tax dollars would go to paying for obscure costs that benefit only a handful of big corporations.
At a time when so many Coloradans are struggling under the burden of a pandemic, an economic crisis, and devastating wildfires, the last thing we need right now is to pay for more handouts to corporate special interests. Proposition 117 doesn’t solve any of our problems. It just makes them worse. Please join me in voting No.
Jared Polis is the governor of Colorado.
This content was originally published here.