Colorado's election season is here. Self-government stood a better chance of proceeding thoughtfully and responsibly, in my opinion, when most or all of our voting was done on one day, not over a three-week period. But this is the reality we have to live with now - made worse by the recent HB-1303 with its same-day registration at polling places and its scattergun distribution of mail ballots - so let's pool our best judgment as conservatives and fight on. Since friends often ask how I will be voting, or how I would vote if residing in another part of the state, I am glad to provide the following rundown on ballot questions and candidates seeking the citizens' approval when results are tallied on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.
Amendment 66: Would increase state income taxes about $1 billion annually, go back to a progressive tax rate instead of a flat tax, dedicate the new revenues to "improvements" in K-12 education, and lock in a fixed percentage of state revenues for school funding.
I VOTE NO: Better schools will only come from competition and choice, not from funneling more dollars to pay and pensions for teachers and educrats. America has tripled its real per-student funding to government schools since 1970 with zero improvement in test scores. State and local government in Colorado already costs too much, partly because of the very unions that are pushing this tax hike.
Proposition AA: Would respond to last year's vote of the people to legalize recreational marijuana (RMJ) by levying upon RMJ an excise tax of 15% at the wholesale level and a sales surtax of 10% (above the existing 2.9%) at the retail level, dedicating $40 million a year from the excise tax to school construction.
I VOTE NO: New money for state and local regulation of the RMJ industry is arguably necessary, but the existing 2.9% sales tax will arguably cover that. Piling on an additional 25% tax rate is merely a revenue grab by the Democratic legislature, with much of the revenue going to unrelated purposes. Sin taxes for behavior modification aren't good policy. And the whopping take for government will only encourage black markets.
Counties Seeking to Separate from Colorado: Commissioners in Weld, Elbert, Moffatt, and 8 other counties have asked voters to instruct them on applying to the General Assembly for permission to leave the governmental structure of Colorado and form themselves into a new state of North Colorado (or in Moffatt's case, to apply to join the state of Wyoming.
I WOULD VOTE YES: Would the legislature approve any county's motion to secede? Not as presently constituted, and probably not ever. Would the US Congress, if secession did occur, grant statehood to a new territory with vast expanse, sparse population, and two Republican senators? Again, it's scarcely imaginable. But I strongly favor the symbolic impact of numerous counties seeking to do this. I like the "vote of no confidence" message it would send an out-of-touch, liberal-dominated legislative and executive branch in Denver. I like the inversion of public debate whereby ever-bigger, ever-more-centralized government is challenged to justify itself for a change, instead of limited-government advocates always being on the defensive.
School Board Elections
As indicated in the discussion of Amendment 66, above, government schools tend to perform poorly because teacher unions ensure they are run more for the benefit of the employees than of the customer (kids and families), by the clever strategem of packing school boards with union-picked directors. Here are the school board candidates NOT beholden to unions in several of the districts I have been watching.
Douglas County Doug Benevento Meghann Silverthorn Jim Geddes Judith Reynolds
Jefferson County John Newkirk Julie Williams Ken Witt
Denver Barbara O'Brien Mike Johnson Rosemary Rodriguez Landri Taylor
Adams 12 Rico Figueroa Debbie Christianson
Mapleton Martin Mendez Jen Raiffie
Centennial I like Kathy Turley in District 1, Brian Olson in District 3, and Cathy Noon for Mayor.
Lakewood I like Dan Smith in Ward 3 and Ramey Johnson in Ward 2.
Arapahoe County Races
Arapahoe GOP website has a complete listing of registered Republicans who are candidates in every "nonpartisan" school board or municipal race within the county. Click to their website and scroll down.