The Campaign Spot

Two Referenda in Colorado to Watch . . . Well, Maybe Just One

Two anti-tax referenda will be on the ballot in Colorado in 2010, which might be an interesting issue and turnout driver in that state’s governor’s race and Senate race, both of which are likely to be competitive. I’m a little curious about the second one, which sounds so vaguely written that neither party is entirely sure what it would do:

“I don’t think you can destroy government by cutting a few taxes,” countered former Greenwood Village Mayor Freda Poundstone.

She co-sponsored a fees-and-taxes measure that would slash vehicle registration fees, reduce the state’s income-tax rate and, except for 911 services, eliminate all taxes and fees on cellphones, pagers, landline telephones, cable, satellite and Internet services.

Those telecommunications fees are used by the state to help outlying areas of Colorado obtain affordable phone service.

“I don’t think people who live in some parts of Colorado will be able to afford a phone if this passes,” Carroll said.

The other measure is aimed at property taxes. Though legal experts say its intent is not entirely clear, it is believed it would, in part, repeal a 2007 mill-levy freeze law that kept property tax rates from falling.

The proposal is so confusing that when it was filed in February, Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, couldn’t resist a jab.

“I’m torn,” he said, at the time. “I love tax cuts, but I have a long-standing policy against run-on sentences and non sequiturs in the constitution.”

I know some states have passed referenda on “English-only” laws. How about we establish the rule that all referenda have to be in understandable English, too?

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