Our View: 'No' on 46 and 51

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Editorial Board, September 2008

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— Voters should oppose amendments 46 and 51 on this year's ballot.

Amendment 46 is a measure against affirmative action policies. It would prohibit the state "from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting."

Such a broad-based, sweeping amendment to the state constitution - with the undefined terms "discrimination" and "preferential treatment" potentially creating costly legal headaches - is not the proper way to address affirmative action issues in Colorado.

While a color- and gender-blind society that does not require affirmative action policies is an ideal for which to strive, we don't think our society has reached that point. Many productive and needed uses for affirmative action exist today. A diverse student body is a valuable component of university campuses, for example. The Supreme Court cautiously upheld that value in two separate 2003 rulings involving the University of Michigan. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court upheld affirmative action policies of the university's law school. But in Gratz v. Bollinger, the court ruled that the university's strict affirmative action points system for undergraduate admissions violated equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution, and stated that race could not be an overriding factor in admissions decisions.

The rulings clearly showed the delicate balance - and strict oversight - needed to effectively and fairly implement affirmative action policies not only in higher education, but also in the workplace and public contracting spheres.

Amendment 46 could put an end to many existing, valuable programs that help ensure an equal footing for all. And while there are also many so-called "phantom businesses" that abuse affirmative action policies through methods including false claims of ownership, those abuses must be prevented through stronger oversight from the state Capitol, not from a sweeping amendment that could have costly and unforeseen impacts.

Amendment 46 - brought to Colorado by interests outside the state - is not an appropriate change to our state's constitution.

We also oppose Amendment 51, but for different reasons. Amendment 51 would raise the state sales tax by 0.1 percent in 2009 and again in 2010, to raise a total of more than $186 million annually for services benefiting people with developmental disabilities.

We do not question the need for increased funding of such services in Colorado, where countless families are on waiting lists for drastically needed, life-changing assistance and programs. In 2005, this newspaper's Editorial Board endorsed the successful 1-mill property tax in Routt County to benefit Horizons Specialized Services. That tax raises at least $832,000 annually for Horizons and is very valuable to our community.

But the statewide nature of Amendment 51 and the very different economic climate of 2008 is part of our reason for opposing the sales tax increase.

Instead, we strongly call on our state legislators and Gov. Bill Ritter to address this need in the 2009 session of the Legislature by finding a revenue source for these services through cutting government spending elsewhere. We realize the state faces incredible budgetary challenges in areas including transportation and education, to name just two. And it is easy to imagine funding for services benefiting the developmentally disabled being swept under the legislative rug. We hope this is not the case and that our state leadership sees the public push for this amendment as a wake-up call. We also can't help but wonder whether similar funding is needed for the physically disabled, who aren't included in this ballot proposal.

Quite simply, now is not the time for a statewide sales-tax increase. If the citizens of Colorado believe Amendment 51 has merit, as we do, they should push their elected representatives to provide funding within the existing budgetary process.

Vote "no" on amendments 46 and 51.

Comments

supermom 5 years, 9 months ago

I have to say that if the editorial board had done their research, they would have seen that there had been an interim committee on Long-term Care Healthcare Services and Supports for Persons with Developmental Disabilities held in the late summer and fall of 2007. At that time, the legislators could not come up with the funds because of the tax structure under Tabor. This is what Tabor is meant to do....to ask the voters to decide whether or not to allow funding for a crisis for which there has been no funding for 16 years. There are no funds in the state coffers. If 51 passes, a family of four who has $55,000. income would pay an additional $20.00 a year to end the wait lists that keep this population in crisis. If Amendment 51 does not pass, this issue will not go away, and if we think that the legislature will find additional monies to end the problem, they are sadly mistaken. As my 20 year old son leaves the school district in May, he loses all the supports he's had that allow him to work at CSU. Without those vocational supports, he will sit at home. I too wonder what happens with the mil levy dollars. Do those funds go to the administration of the programs or to direct supports? I don't know, do you? Will it take people off the county waitlist? Ask your county commissioners and see if they know. I've heard that in Routt County that there are persons with developmental disabilities who will never come off the wait list. Besides, not every county has mil levy support. Larimer County has a mil levy, but the waiting list is about 400 or more people. Families are lucky if more than one person comes off the wait list each year. When Colorado is 46th in the nation, near the bottom in states' funding this population, I think it's a pretty sad state of how people feel about the less able amongst us. If you as a citizen feel that it's ok for your family member, friend's child or neighbor's to sit at home for 10 or 15 years and lose the skills they've attained during their school years...or a child who is in newly diagnosed and in their developmental stages, I ask you...if not now, when? It's never the wrong time to do the right thing. Please Vote Yes on 51.

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Kevin Chapman 5 years, 9 months ago

http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/lcsstaff/bluebook/2008EnglishVersionforInternet.pdf

Who cares what the pilot says:..they are people just like the owners of FOX news. Fair and balanced my a**. Click the link above and decide for yourself. Maybe our paper should be distributing this type of "make your own decision" information rather than where it stands on things. Read up, be informed:..heck start your own agenda, the pilot has. My interest here is to get people informed, then decide for yourself. Discuss it with a buddy, do whatever it takes to get a clear concise understanding of what it is you are voting on.

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