This November, Lake County residents will vote on just three statewide ballot measures — a smaller number than in last year’s election. This year’s initiatives pertain to state government’s use of custodial money, the sales tax rate on retail marijuana and the property tax assessment rate for multifamily housing and lodging.

Amendment 78

Amendment 78 will determine how state agencies spend custodial money, funds the state receives from outside entities for a particular purpose such as dollars from a legal settlement, federal emergency relief funds or private donations.

State agencies are currently responsible for deciding how to spend such funds. Amendment 78, if passed, would shift this power to the Colorado General Assembly. The state legislature would be required to allocate all custodial money through its public budgeting process, regardless of whether the funds were directed to the Colorado Attorney General, the University of Colorado or Colorado Department of Transportation.

Those who support the amendment believe the measure will increase transparency in state government, opening up more conversations around spending to public input. Those who are against Amendment 78 believe the measure would increase bureaucratic inefficiencies, potentially interrupting the continuity of state services.

Proposition 119

If passed, Proposition 119 would raise Colorado’s tax on retail marijuana to fund out-of-school enrichment opportunities for youth.

The ballot measure would create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress (LEAP) program, a statewide initiative to provide K-12 students with out-of-school opportunities like tutoring, second language learning, vocational classes and mental health services. The state would pay private providers to run such enrichment programs, not school districts.

Proposition 119 would fund LEAP by raising the sales tax rate on retail marijuana by five percent over a three year period, topping out at 20 percent in 2024. The initiative also allocates about $20 million from Colorado’s general fund and $20 million from the State Land Board to LEAP annually.

Proponents of the proposition believe LEAP would provide students with much needed instructional support outside of the classroom, a need heightened by learning losses seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who oppose the proposition believe public money should be directed to school districts, not private services. Some also think the initiative would popularize the black market marijuana industry.

Proposition 120

If approved by voters, Proposition 120 would reduce the property tax assessment rate for multifamily housing properties, such as duplexes, from 7.15 percent to 6.5 percent and for multifamily lodging properties, such as hotels, from 29 percent to 26.4 percent. In doing so, the measure would lower property tax revenue for most local governments across the Colorado.

Supporters of Proposition 120 believe the tax reduction may reduce pressure on rent prices and allow lodging businesses to grow and hire more employees. Opponents of Proposition 120 believe the tax reduction would result in government cuts at the local level, such as to fire departments and public schools.

Rachel Woolworth

Herald Editor

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