As the state representative for District 27, I’ve talked to a lot of people in Arvada. From coffee shops and breweries to libraries and town halls, we always seem to end up on the same refrain: taxes.
Our district is a growing community with a growing economy. Arvadans often, rightly, ask why we can’t seem to get ahead — why traffic and schools have less and less resources, despite our record low unemployment, growing tourism and corporate profits.
The answer is a 30-year-old tax law that puts an arbitrary cap on the money the state can invest. It may seem like good politics to cap state government spending and refund taxpayers, but every expert will tell you it’s terrible policy.
Would you run a company that had artificially capped its income and investments?
Many Coloradans agree with the concepts in this law — to limit the growth of government. But the unintended consequences have been dire: our school funding is nearly the worst in the country while our roads crumble under a $9 billion infrastructure backlog. You know the traffic.
Local governments have long known this formula doesn’t work, which is why 80% of municipalities and almost every school district have voted to remove these arbitrary spending limits. This money goes toward roads, bridges, libraries, community centers and schools. And 84% of counties have done the same — except for Jefferson County.
READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.
JeffCo has been doing a good job budgeting within these strict limits, but the inevitable has happened, and today a bipartisan group of county commissioners unanimously agree that it is necessary to adapt to our environment.
JeffCo wants to be able to invest the money it already collects, without raising taxes, with the 1A ballot initiative that will be on November’s ballot — much like what Colorado is seeking to accomplish with Proposition CC.
Jefferson County has been seen as a mini-Colorado; a politically mixed community of urban and rural voters. As goes JeffCo, so goes Colorado. Much like our beloved county, Colorado has balanced the budget and invests what it can wisely.
But we’re now at a crossroads as a state: we are experiencing record growth without the ability to plan for it. We’re the best economy in the country with some of the most underfunded infrastructure and services.
Just like JeffCo’s bipartisan commissioners have recognized by pushing 1A, we also need to give Colorado the opportunity to invest revenue from things like corporate taxes and tourism and, with a yes vote on Proposition CC this fall, we can do it without raising a penny more in taxes.
Proposition CC isn’t the answer to all of our problems. But it’s a start. It takes revenue that the state already collects, which would normally be refunded through tax rebates that average between $27-$44 for the average single-filer. Pooled together, however, this money is projected up to about $264 million, just next year alone, and probably more the year after.
If Proposition CC passes, it will be used specifically for education and transportation, with unprecedented accountability and transparency, through an independent, publicly available auditor.
It’s not enough to reverse decades of under-investment, but we need to start making a dent in the deficit. Join me in voting Yes on Prop CC. It’s time we take full advantage of our economy and invest in Colorado’s future!
Colorado state Rep. Brianna Titone represents state House District 27 in Arvada.