School of Public Affairs debuts tool to model financial implications of individuals’ votes on ballot initiatives
CU Denver School of Public Affairs hosts First Friday Breakfast themed on upcoming electionsToula Wellbrook | School of Public Affairs Oct 5, 2018
DENVER, Colorado — University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs hosted “First Friday Breakfast: Why is my ballot so long? What am I voting on?” offering attendees a closer look at a new budget simulation tool, as well as several ballot initiatives that Coloradans will be voting on in the upcoming elections.
The event began with an overview by Chris Adams from Engaged Public on Balancing Act, the new budget tool that was developed in partnership with CU Denver School of Public Affairs. The tool simulates the 2018-19 budget and enables users to model how the adjustments of taxes and spending triggered by their votes on selected ballot measures would affect the overall state budget.
The model uses actual constraints and requires that decisions result in a balanced state budget. The primary sources of information used in the simulation are the Appropriations Report, the September 2018 Economic & Revenue Forecast, Budget in Brief and the Blue Book.
“In Colorado, voters are ultimately in charge of tax policy, not legislators or the governor,” says Chris Adams, president of Balancing Act and also a senior fellow at the School of Public Affairs. “This means that all of us have a duty to learn about our state’s budget issues, and the changes proposed by the ballot questions, so that we can make good choices.”
After the November 6 election, the simulation will be updated to reflect the election results and to provide a means for residents to learn about and provide input on future proposals. The simulation was produced by Balancing Act and University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs, and the public is invited to be notified when a new version is available.
“This partnership with Balancing Act is very exciting because it gives SPA’s audiences of students, alumni, and interested citizens a chance to not just see the impacts of possible decisions ahead of them as voters this month, but also to shape those outcomes in a simulation framework,” says Paul Teske, Dean of CU Denver School of Public Affairs and University of Colorado Distinguished Professor. “There is a lot on our Colorado ballot, and this will help voters understand tax choices better.”
At the conclusion of the demo at the First Friday Breakfast event, Dean Teske moderated a discussion between five presenters and an audience of nearly 150 attendees on the following ballot initiatives.
Amendment 73 proposes changes to the state’s Constitution and statutes, with $1.6 billion in new taxes for corporation and individuals above $150K income to fund K12 education programs to be determined by the legislature. Cary Kennedy, a longtime advocate for K12 education in Colorado represented “Yes” on Amendment 73. Kennedy has been the elected state Treasurer in Colorado, CFO and Deputy Mayor of Denver, and was recently a Democratic candidate for Governor in Colorado. Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action, represented “No” on
Amendment 73. He was previously the State Director of Americans for Prosperity - Colorado. He served as a policy aide at the Colorado State House and as a press aide for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. He taught at a charter school in Aurora, and now serves as the governing board president of that school.
Proposition 109 proposes changes to state statutes to authorize bonds for specific road repair projects using funds in the current budget, named “Fix Our Damn Roads,” and Proposition 110 proposes changes to state statutes to increase state sales taxes, from 2.9% to 3.52%, to pay for transportation improvements, including transit. An average Colorado household would pay $131 more per year. Tony Milo, Executive Director of the Colorado Contractors Association, represented “Yes” on Proposition 110. He earned a BA in International Relations from James Madison College of Michigan State University and a Master of Management degree from Aquinas College in Michigan.
Proposition 112 proposes changes to the state’s statutes about setback requirements for oil and gas wells, increasing to 2,500 feet away from occupied structures, up from 500 feet. Jessica Abell, GreenFaith Fellow and Board Treasurer of Colorado Interfaith Power & Light, represented “Yes” on Proposition 112. Abell holds a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning and a Master’s of Divinity. She has served as Ministerial Associate at First Baptist Church of Denver, Color., and Pastoral Associate at Metropolitan Community Church of the Rockies. Andrew Dunkley, Public Works Commission for the Town of Castle Rock, represented “No” on Proposition 112. He was a project manager for mechanical and construction companies, and has worked with the US Senate and Colorado General Assembly on issues related to energy and natural resources, transportation, public lands, agriculture and water.
The October event was the second in this academic year’s series of moderated discussions that typically take place on the first Friday of most months. CU Denver School of Public Affairs selects timely topics of interest to the wider community and invites subject matter expects from various sides of arguments to offer information and balanced views of the discussion topics. The events are free and open to the public.
University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs is creating the next generation of visionary leaders. Our downtown Denver location provides unprecedented access to a diverse urban environment where policy becomes practice. Our online courses give students flexibility and choices that fit their lifestyles. Our faculty’s expertise makes us a go-to resource for state and national policy makers, and for students who have a vision for a better future. The U.S.News & World Report 2018 Best Graduate Schools publication ranks the CU Denver School of Public Affairs as the top public affairs school in Colorado and among the best in the nation.