2021 Election: What you need to know about the Nov. 2 ballot measures

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: October 15, 2021

The 2021 election is on Nov. 2! Even though we are not electing state and federal officials, we will be voting on a number of ballot measures that will impact the lives of Colorado kids and families. Below, you will find a summary of some of these measures, and the Children’s Campaign’s corresponding positions to help guide you on election day:  

Proposition 119: Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress (LEAP) Program 

Colorado Children’s Campaign Position: SUPPORT 

Proposition 119 (LEAP) is intended to improve the inequities in access to enrichment opportunities which students faced prior to the pandemic, and help students recover from the learning opportunities lost throughout the past 18 months. LEAP would create a state government entity overseen by an appointed board of 13 members. Duties left to the appointed board include hiring an executive director, establishing a Parent Advisory Council and a Provider Advisory Council, selecting learning opportunity providers, establishing how funds will be distributed, overseeing financial aid to parents and eligible children, and evaluating the impacts of learning opportunities. As a state agency, the program will be subject to oversight by the General Assembly.  

Proposition 119 would require a simple majority of voters to pass. The program would be funded by a phased-in 5% sales tax increase on recreational marijuana (by 2024, at which point the maximum total tax rate will be 20%) and revenues from state lands. State Land Board (SLB) revenue would only flow to the LEAP Program after the SLB budget is funded and $20 million is transferred to the permanent school fund. According to the Impact Statement by nonpartisan Legislative Council staff, Proposition 119 would generate $55.8 million for programmatic use in 2021-22, and $109.1 million in 2022-23. Ninety percent of the revenue that the LEAP authority receives will be used to provide grants to education opportunity providers and financial aid to students and parents, with 10% reserved for administrative costs.  

The Colorado Children’s Campaign supports Proposition 119 because it addresses long-standing inequities in youth access to enrichment activities that have worsened during the COVID pandemic. The Initiative is inclusive of a broad array of services that support the academic, social-emotional and technical education needs of students. The LEAP Program also has the potential to directly impact kids across several areas, including K-12 education, behavioral health, family economic security, and youth engagement. If passed, it will enable eligible parents to use up to $1,500 in financial aid per child to select learning opportunities from a menu of state-certified providers. The funds could be used for supplemental out-of-school learning opportunities, including tutoring, afterschool enrichment, and special education support, among others. Priority would go to students in households with low incomes (those at or below 100% of the federal poverty level), and students with the greatest educational needs. Learn more about LEAP here.

Proposition 120: Property Tax Assessment Rate Reduction and Voter-Approved Revenue Change 

Colorado Children’s Campaign Position: OPPOSE 

Property tax in Colorado is generally equal to the actual value of property multiplied by an assessment rate, and the resulting assessed value is multiplied by each applicable local government’s mill levy. In the 2020 election, Colorado voters approved a repeal of the Gallagher Amendment, freezing the assessment rates for residential and nonresidential property at 7.15% and 29%, respectively. Colorado had the third-lowest residential property taxes of any state in 2019. 

In the 2021 legislative session, the General Assembly passed SB21-293 (Property Tax Classification and Assessment Rates). The bill provides property tax relief, but amends the underlying statutes that this proposition would change. The proposition’s assessment rate reductions would apply only to multifamily residential property. SB21-293’s passage undercuts the negative revenue impact of Proposition 120 because the taxation categories on which the measure is based will be outdated by November 2021.  

In short, the measure will decrease the local share of school finance. The measure would lower property tax assessment rates, increasing the amount of state share to backfill what is lost to property tax revenue. The measure increases state expenditures by at least $12.8 million in the 2022-23 budget year, and $14.1 million in the 2023-24 budget year. Further, the measure decreases property tax revenue to local governments statewide by an estimated $45.9 million in 2022 and $50.3 million in 2023.  

If passed, Proposition 120 will reduce the assessment rate for nonresidential property from 29% to 26.4%, and the residential assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.5%, beginning in 2023.  

The Colorado Children’s Campaign opposes Proposition 120. Across all areas of the Children’s Campaign’s work, we emphasize the funding and resource challenges facing children and families because of the constraints on our state budget. This measure would exacerbate the state’s revenue problem, making it more difficult to ensure critical investments in education and improve our financial sustainability.   

Question 2F: Safe and Sound Denver 

Colorado Children’s Campaign Position: OPPOSE 

Question 2F would repeal the Denver Living Group Ordinance passed this year that increased the number of unrelated adults who can live together in a home to five (from the previous limit of two), and updated rules regarding residential facilities (e.g., shelters, community corrections, and nursing homes). The ordinance passed overwhelmingly at Denver City Council with support from over 50 organizations and following a lengthy community engagement process.  

The Children’s Campaign supported the ordinance because the previous group living rules were outdated and based in structural bias against groups who face greater barriers to stable housing. The Denver Group Living Ordinance is one part of the solution to increasing housing security for kids and families in Denver and promoting equity in Denver housing policy. Learn more about this measure here 

With the election fast approaching, now is the time to make sure your voter registration is up to date. Click here to register now, or check the status of your registration. You can find out where to vote or drop off your ballot here.  To learn more about ballot measures being voted on in your community, click here. 

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About Children's Campaign

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.