CAWG Takes Positions on Ballot Measures

Colorado votes will have the chance to vote on a host of measures that will appear on the ballot in this November’s election. Colorado has one of the most liberal initiative processes, giving citizens the ability to pose numerous questions directly to voters each election cycle. This year, there are eleven such measures that will appear on the state-wide ballot. The Colorado Association of Wheat Growers has taken official positions on five of these questions.


“The CAWG board has considered each of the measures that will appear on this November’s ballot, carefully considering each measure’s impact to agriculture and the wheat industry specifically,” said Brad Erker, Executive Director of the Colorado Association of Wheat Growers. “Our members expect us to engage on policy issues and advocate for what the board believes is in the best interest of the industry”


Here is a rundown of the measures CAWG has taken positions on:


OPPOSE Proposition 113


In 2019 the General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed, Senate Bill 19-042 which would enter Colorado into an agreement with other states to elect the President by national popular vote, superseding (or effectively eliminating) the Electoral College process outlined in in the U.S. Constitution. Proposition 113 asks voters whether Senate Bill 42 shall remain law in Colorado. A “no” vote on Proposition 113 will repeal the 2019 law.


The campaign in opposition to Proposition 113, Protect Colorado’s Vote, summed it up best:


“This end-run around the Constitution requires Colorado’s 9 Presidential Electors to cast their votes for the candidate for President who received the most votes nationally, even if that candidate did NOT receive the most votes in Colorado. Demanding Colorado’s Electors cast their votes this way is theft of our votes for President and gives them to more populated areas like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.”


CAWG asks for a “no” vote on Proposition 113.


OPPOSE Proposition 114


Proposition 114 proposes amending state law to require the state to develop a plan and take necessary steps to reintroduce gray wolves in Colorado.


Gray wolves in the lower 48 states are largely clustered in two self-sustaining populations: about 4,000 in the western Great Lakes region and about 2,000 in the northern Rocky Mountain region. An additional 60,000 to 70,000 gray wolves live throughout Alaska and Canada. While there have been confirmed sightings of gray wolves in Colorado in recent years, a self-sustaining population of gray wolves has not been confirmed in Colorado since the 1930s or 1940s.


The reintroduction of wolves through the ballot box, however, is the wrong approach. Further, wolves are already naturally expanding their range into Colorado as a result of wolf introduction in the Northern Rockies. Livestock producers throughout the state oppose reintroduction of wolves, fearing significant loss to predation should reintroduction occur.


CAWG agrees and urges voters to support Colorado’s ranching families by voting “no.”


SUPPORT Proposition 116


Proposition 116 proposes reducing the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent for tax year 2020 and future years.


Since 2000, Colorado’s income tax rate has been a flat 4.63 percent, which means that all taxpayers pay the same tax rate regardless of their taxable income. The income tax rate applies to the Colorado taxable income of both individuals and corporate taxpayers. Colorado taxable income is equal to federal taxable income, adjusted for any state additions and deductions.


State income tax collections are the main source of General Fund revenue, which
is the primary resource for financing state government operations. In state budget
year 2018-19, the state income tax generated $9.2 billion and accounted for 67 percent of General Fund revenue. Currently, most of the money in the General Fund is spent on health care, education, human services, and other state programs.


Proposition 116 is expected to reduce state income tax revenue by $154 million in state budget
year 2021-22, equal to 1.2 percent of expected state General Fund revenue for that year.


CAWG believes that after years of significant growth in the state’s budget, a small reduction in the taxes imposed on families and business could not come at a better time. Proposition 116 will allow families and businesses to keep more of their hard-earned money to help make ends meet, save for kids’ college, or to invest in other ways they see fit.


SUPPORT Proposition 117


Proposition 117 aims to limit the legislature’s ability to raise fees and to account for revenue outside of Colorado’s Constitutional limits under TABOR.


If Proposition 117 passes, beginning in 2021, voter approval would be required to create
new state government enterprises that are expected to collect fee revenue of over $100 million during the first five fiscal years. In addition, voter approval would be required for a state government enterprise that actually collects over $100 million in fee revenue during the first five fiscal years, even if fee revenue was not originally projected to be over $100 million. If an existing enterprise loses and then regains its status as a state government enterprise, it may require a vote under this measure. For multiple enterprises created to serve primarily the same purpose, including those created during the past five years, revenue is added together to determine whether voter approval is required. Proposition 117 also requires that titles for ballot measures creating an enterprise begin with the amount of fees that an enterprise will collect in its first five years.


CAWG supports this measure.


OPPOSE Proposition 118


Proposition 118, if passed, would implement a paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program. Proponents of this measure resorted to the initiative process after the legislature rejected approving such a program in six past legislative sessions.


Proposition 118 creates a state-run paid family and medical leave insurance program in Colorado that allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave and keep their job. Both employers and employees will pay into a new Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund (fund). The state will use money in the fund to pay wage benefits to employees during their leave, similar to unemployment insurance. The amount an employee will receive during leave is based on the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW). Most employees become eligible to take paid leave after they have earned at least $2,500 in wages and become eligible for certain job protections after being employed with their current employer for at least 180 days.


Proposition 118 sounds like a good deal for employees although this new government program would take money directly out of hard-working Coloradoans’ paychecks. The impact on employers, however, would be much different. And we have to consider the cost.


In writing for Complete Colorado, Dave Davia, CEO & Executive Vice President of the Rocky Mountain Mechanical Contractors Association, summed it up:


“If passed, Proposition 118 would implement a $1.3 billion, state-run family and medical leave program. To fund the program, the measure requires employers and employees to pay a 0.9% “payroll premium,” or tax directly from employee wages — like a FICA tax. While 0.9% does not sound significant, it’s more than a 20% increase in payroll taxes.


Consider an employee who makes $75,000 per year. The new tax amounts to $675 split between the employee and employer. But that’s only the beginning.


Proposition 118 sets up a new department in state government to administer the program. The measure grants a political appointee the power to raise the payroll premium — or tax — up to 1.2%. An increase from 0.9% to 1.2% would represent a whopping 15% tax increase for the employee alone, and this is on top of the initial 20% increase.


If the cost to employees is not compelling enough, consider the cost to employers. According to an analysis from the non-partisan Common Sense Institute (CSI), the 2019 corporate income tax net collections on businesses was $655 million. In 2025, the total premiums to be paid by employers could total over $1.34 billion. This would be an effective increase of the corporate income tax of 204%.”


CAWG urges a “no” vote on Proposition 118.

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