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11/3/16 - There is a better way than Amendment 72

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10/6/16 - Oppose Colorado Amendment 72 - for the good of public policy

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There is a better way than Amendment 72

11/3/2016

Colorado citizens that otherwise support increasing tobacco taxes to encourage people to quit smoking should never have been put in the position of having to also make a choice that further hampers our states constitution and places even more restrictions on our budgetary process.  

I have read the numerous letters to the editor and comments made by health care providers why they support Amendment 72 and their perspective as doctors deserves your consideration. However the "political entities" backing Amendment 72, who will also get a share of this 315 million dollar tax hike,  knew exactly what they were doing to our constitution. Massively growing programs beyond the states constitutional limit to keep up with, through TABOR, is doing a poor service to our state.  Colorado citizens should know that tying programs like services to veterans and access to health care in rural parts of Colorado to a revenue source that that is dependent upon people actually using tobacco, is counter-intuitive to the point of the amendment which supposed to tax people enough to stop smoking.

If people stop smoking, and the revenue dries up, which state services do the backers of amendment 72 advocate cutting to maintain services to the now constitutionally mandated programs for veterans established by 72? K-12 education? Prisons?

Colorado citizens should also know that when the last tax hike was approved, backers of that that tax hike were more moderate. Amendment 35 gave the legislature, in the case of a state fiscal emergency, the ability to redirect funds to support other needs. That isn't the case with 72.  Backers defend their punitive constitutional mandate by saying they are trying to "protect their money?" Protect it from who? Kids you are trying to help? Flood or Fire Victims?

Voters should reject amendment 72.   People that support raising the tobacco tax to encourage people to quit should instead demand a measure they don't have to muck up the constitution to vote for. This measure should provide sustainable funding to the programs in 72, allow flexibility in the budgetary process for our state officials, and doesn't leverage other important funding priorities like schools that will ultimately have to compete against a constitutional mandate when 72's revenue source dries up.