Voting and the Democrat’s Way

by Debra Irvine

 Monday afternoon, February 17, 2014, the Colorado House passed HB1164 on a party-line vote.  It had been returned to the House from the Senate where it had been passed on a party-line vote as well.

The bill is very complicated and 130 pages long (which should have been a red flag).  HB1164 is connected to last year’s HB1303.  HB1164 was pushed through quickly and it’s selling point was that it would bring election procedures (for special taxing districts, school districts, etc.) in line with HB1303 that was passed last Fall.

HB1164 is not the kind of bill to pass quickly because there are laws that need to be reviewed…one against the other.  Additionally, there will be consequences for passing a bill for which the ramifications are not known, without scrutiny paid by legislators.

A special district is one where many taxes for services (property, sales..) are raised and collected.  They are smaller and typically don’t come under the public microscope as municipal governments do. 

I won’t get into the details of the bill.  There are, however, some highlights to note and that you should be aware of:

The Colorado’s Special District Association and Municipal League both pushed to have HB1164 passed so that rules would be in place for elections in May 2014.

School districts and special districts do not have to administer elections within their borders but may do so anywhere in the State…downtown Denver if they so deem.

A resident of Denver could change his/her registration online, say that they have the “intention” of living in a special school district or taxing district hundreds of miles away and drive downtown to cast a ballot.  That voter could then change back their “intent” to one of living in Denver.  As if that weren’t enough, signature verification would not be required for mail-in ballots in these special districts.

When people are able to vote in districts they claim they “intend” to live in some day, it degrades district-based elections whereby voters with common concerns and interests will be affected by the results of an election.

There is no question, in my mind, that Governor Hickenlooper will put a quick signature on this when it reaches his desk.

 
 

Press Release 2/12/14

 Debra Irvine

P.O. Box 4833

Breckenridge, CO 80424

 

Release:      IMMEDIATE                                   Contact:   Debra Irvine

Date:           February 12, 2014                               

 

DEBRA IRVINE ANNOUNCES HER CANDIDACY

FOR STATE REPRESENTATIVE, HOUSE DISTRICT 61

 Debra Irvine, from Breckenridge, Colorado is announcing her candidacy for State Representative for Colorado House District 61.  “I look forward to serving the counties of Delta, Gunnison, Lake, Pitkin, Summit and the State of Colorado,” says Irvine.

Irvine respects the needs of the counties and would like to help the counties “prosper, prepare and protect.”

“We can prosper by reducing regulations, restrictions and taxes.  Economic growth is encouraged by entrepreneurship and small business is a vital part of our economy.  We can keep energy costs down by pursuing fiscally sound energy policy while protecting our fossil fuel industry.  By reducing the role and size of Government, self-reliance and a healthy economy are promoted,” Irvine explained.

“Quality education is key to helping our children prepare for their future and funding should be fair to the taxpayer and school districts.  Parents should be given choices and a voice.  Vocational and technical education are also essential for a needed skilled workforce and we should challenge our children,” Irvine believes.

Irvine also maintains that, “We need to protect and defend our heritage and traditions that helped found our great State and Nation; our US Constitution, agriculture, ranching, mining, forestry, water, recreation, property rights and the Second Amendment.  We are handing down our Legacy to our next generations.”

As a State Representative, Irvine explains she will focus her attention on the constituents and not pressure from outside influences.  “We have seen a great deal of financial influence coming to Colorado.  Amendment 66 and recent gun control bills saw millions of dollars of support from outside our State.  If we want to see fairness come back to the citizens of House District 61 and Colorado, we have to work together to stop this trend.  Our best recourse is to elect a new State Representative and I am honored and prepared to take up the challenge.”

For more information on Debra Irvine’s campaign and background, please go to: www.IrvineforColorado.com and on Facebook , Debra Irvine for HD61.

 

The Amendment 66 Vote

 

Letter to the Editor

 by Debra Irvine

Breckenridge, Colorado

November 18, 2013

Rep. Millie Hamner’s recent opinion piece on Amendment 66 focused entirely on education funding and programs.

“I appreciate the message sent by my constituents in House District 61….who voted against the measure”, Hamner notes.   Under the rules of Senate Bill 213, Amendment 66 can be on the ballot until 2017 (the next 4 elections).  If that happens, I hope we will be “appreciated” four more times.

Something important is left out of Hamner’s commentary.  Voters are concerned with Amendment 66 at so many more levels than education funding (and not knowing how the money would be spent).

Amendment 66 would permanently add nearly $1 Billion additional taxes each year in perpetuity. It allows all tax revenues attributable to the measure to be collected and spent without future voter approval.

Shortly before this past election, Hamner sent out an email with reasons to vote for Amendment 66.  Her last item was that Amendment 66 would “Keep Colorado’s taxes among the lowest in the nation”.  Logically this isn’t possible.  Raising an additional $1B in taxes every year would put Colorado among the top 5 states with highest taxes (WSJ).

Coloradans are concerned with the economy…making ends meet and making their income stretch further.  Additionally, individuals and businesses are being affected by Obamacare with higher premiums, deductibles and expenses.  If Colorado becomes one of the highest taxed States in the Nation, we will not be attractive to new businesses.  Existing businesses and families will also continue to struggle needlessly.

I share Hamner’s passion for education.  I also believe representation must go beyond personal passions and be empathetic to the entire needs of constituents.

 

Reading, Writing, Amendment 66

Reading, Writing and Amendment 66

An opinion piece by Debra Irvine

 People will run out of resources long before they run out of ways to spend money.  The National Education Association ranked Colorado 26th in the Nation for 2011-12 education expenditures per student.

 Amendment 66 is on our November Colorado ballot – an increase of nearly $1 Billion in new taxes for education.  Each year; this we know.  What we don’t know is how the money would be spent.  Proponents of the tax increase aren’t giving specifics.  From pre-school to pensions – we just don’t know.

 Please note that I support quality education.  I also realize our economy is still fragile and an additional tax burden will hurt struggling families.  Parents face additional costs every school year while the median income has decreased.

 Amendment 66 proposes a two-tier income tax structure that is unfair and unequal.  Everyone with an income above $75,000 (except corporations) will have a tax increase of 27%  (from 4.63 to 5.96%).  The burden of the new tax will be carried by individuals and small businesses.  Proponents of this tax increase argue that business income will not be subject to the tax provision and property taxes are not changed; so, no impact to business.  Not true.  Most small businesses are S Corporations and LLCs and will be impacted because they pay personal income taxes on their profits.

 There is legitimate concern that funding generated by tax dollars will go to pensions instead of the classroom.  Colorado’s public pension system (PERA) is underfunded by $20 Billion.  Its portfolio maintains an unrealistic 8% return assumption.  If it falls below that, taxpayers and our State make up the difference.  Twice in the last decade money was diverted from the classroom to support PERA.  By 2018 school districts will match over 20% of school teachers’ salaries into PERA.  Try finding a match like that in the private sector.

 Many proponents of Amendment 66 have a personal interest in its passage.  Our State Representative Millie Hamner receives over $120,000 in retirement from education every year. 
Regarding this tax increase Rep. Hamner has said, “Part of the money would go to those things (PERA, salaries, health benefits)…because that’s just part of how schools budget”.

 Unions and other Amendment 66 supporters profess monies are needed to implement reforms created by Senate Bill 191 (SB191: teachers’ performance).  However, there is strong indication that two supportive unions, the Colorado Education Association and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association plan to bring forward a lawsuit to end merit-based tenure after this election.  The litigation against SB191 had to be filed before August 2013 when the statute of limitation expired.  After an August 26 meeting, the Colorado Board of Education (defendant in the threatened suit) agreed to grant unions a one-year extension.  After Amendment 66’s fate is decided by voters, the unions can fight to stop SB191’s merit-based teacher tenure.

 This would leave us with more of our taxes going to fund education without holding teachers accountable for performance.

 Amendment 66 will not distribute funding equitably.  For example:  school district per pupil funding increase for Summit will be $472; Archuleta: $1,019; Gunnison: $393; Ridgeway: $3.

 Be aware that even if Amendment 66 passes, do not expect education mill levies to disappear.

 With Amendment 66, the median Colorado family will pay over $250 additional taxes per year when it is already paying that (and more) for school supplies.  Additionally, many parents want choices but private school vouchers will not come with this initiative.

 Administrators of our hard-earned money should be forever mindful from whence it comes and to never become indifferent.  A solar panel project by Summit County School District is being dismantled (at a great expense) because frustrated parents and residents made a strong case.

 No matter what our political leaning, we can agree on the importance of quality education.  We want our children to be challenged and to become successful, independent, contributing members of society.  We also need to create an environment where businesses grow, jobs are created and families have more discretionary income.

 Pouring additional money into education doesn’t guarantee reform.  We need an approach that is wise, creative, and more productive with the resources we have.

 Governor Hickenlooper said that this new School Financing Act would “turn every school superintendent into a CEO”.

 His statement makes me realize that, to some, the bigger picture is fading.

Whose Rights is our State Representative Defending?

Whose Rights is our State Representative Defending? 

Letter to the Editor, July 2013

 

At a Summit County Legislative forum State Representative Millie Hamner defended her anti-2nd Amendment voting record noting  “…we don’t call it ‘gun control’, we call it ‘gun safety’.”

 

The “we” Rep. Hamner is referring to must NOT be the law-abiding, 2nd Amendment-defending House District 61 constituents.  Perhaps “we” is her liberal establishment donors which include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

 

Rep. Hamner went on to say that the gun bills were about “public safety not restricting anyone’s rights” and “If I thought anything we were doing was in violation of the Constitution I wouldn’t have voted for it.”

 

Rep. Hamner voted against CO HB13-1048.  This bill extended the right to use deadly force against an intruder under certain conditions to include owners, managers, and employees of businesses.

 

Whose rights and safety did Rep. Hamner have in mind when she voted against HB1048  - the business owner, employee trying to earn a living or the perpetrator?

 

54 Colorado Sheriffs have taken a bold stand as to the constitutionality of recently passed gun laws.  These Sheriffs include HD61 Sheriffs of Summit, Delta, Gunnison and Lake counties (3 Republicans, 1 Democrat).  The Judicial system will have a say.

 

Additionally, the Constituents of House District 61 will have the opportunity to voice their dismay at the polls in November 2014.

Debra Irvine

Breckenridge, Colorado