On our ballots: Nov. 2 election ballot items explained

Natalie Weiland

graphic illustration of horsetooth rock with filled out ballots floating in the wind above
(Graphic Illustration from The Collegian archives)

In the Nov. 2 election, Colorado voters will decide on a series of ballot issues dealing with a range of topics from state spending to property tax. 

In order to help voters navigate the issues up for a vote during this election, The Collegian has created a ballot guide to explain what each item on the ballot entails. The information included in each of the propositions/amendment sections below is pulled from the 2021 state Ballot Information Booklet (Blue Book), which is mailed to voters across Colorado. 

Amendment 78

Amendment 78, “Legislative Authority for Spending State Money,” was created and appears on the ballot via citizen initiative — a process in which an item appears on the ballot after petitioning by citizens, according to Ballotpedia and needs 55% of the vote to pass. 

If passed, Amendment 78 would require state agencies to seek approval from the state legislature before spending custodial money (money that was given to them for a specific purpose). The amendment would require these funds to instead be placed in a new, transparent fund, and any interest earned on it must be returned to the state’s general fund, where it can be used for any general purpose. 

Further, Amendment 78 would require the state legislature to hold a public hearing with public comment before allocating any spending from this newly created fund. 

Essentially, this measure serves as a means of regulating spending by state agencies with legislature approval. 

Amendment 78 would impact legal settlements, grants, transportation funding and emergency relief funds, among other items. 

A “yes” vote would require state spending to be allocated by the legislature in this way, and a “no” vote would allow state agencies to carry on spending custodial money without legislative approval. 

Proposition 119

Proposition 119, “Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program,” needs a majority vote to pass and was placed on the ballot with a citizen initiative. 

If passed, this measure would amend the Colorado statutes to create the “Colorado Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress program” in order to “help certain Colorado youth access and pay for out-of-school learning opportunities.” Proposition 119 would fund this by raising retail cannabis tax rates. 

Children between the ages of 5 and 17 would be eligible to apply for the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress program, which would provide funding for activities such as tutoring that aid students outside of school. 

An increase in retail cannabis taxes would majorly fund the new program, with a 5% increase over three years. In addition, roughly $20 million would be provided toward the program from the state general fund. 

Further, roughly $20 million would be diverted annually from the State Land Trust to the State Public School Fund. 

A “yes” vote would allow for an increase in retail cannabis taxes in order to provide funding for out-of-school enrichment programs, and a “no” vote would prevent the creation and funding of the Colorado Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress program at this time. 

Proposition 120

Proposition 120, “Property Tax Assessment Rate Reduction,” is a citizen initiative that needs a majority vote to pass and would amend the Colorado statutes. 

If passed, Proposition 120 would lower existing “property tax assessment rates for multifamily housing and lodging properties” as well as permit the state of Colorado to retain money that exceeds constitutional spending limits for the purpose of funding existing property tax exemptions. 

Originally, Proposition 120 was written to permanently lower most nonresidential and all residential property assessment rates in the state. Later, Senate Bill 21-293 created new property categories so the residential rate of 6.5% in Proposition 120 now only applies to multifamily properties while the nonresidential rate of 26.4% only applies to lodging properties. 

Proposition 120 also allows the state to retain $25 million yearly in revenue above the current constitutional limit for the purpose of funding “existing reimbursements to local governments for property tax exemptions for seniors and veterans with a service-related disability.” 

A “yes” vote would lower the property tax assessment rate for both multifamily housing and lodging properties but would not affect the rates for other types of property. A “no” vote would maintain the existing assessment rates for these kinds of properties. 

Natalie Weiland can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @natgweiland.