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Oct 13, 2010 7:25 PM by Andy Koen

Library budget illustrates 60, 61 & 101 debate

The Pikes Peak Library District provides a good example of the debate over amendments 60, 61, and proposition 101.  Most of the money the library uses (85 percent of the budget) comes from property taxes. Amendment 60 would lower those taxes.

Jill Gaebler is the vice president of the library districts board of trustees.  She says the estimated $8 million the district would lose next year has them considering a budget with dramatic cuts.

"The library is looking at reducing its staff by about 150 people and we will close approximately 6 libraries, that's half of our libraries," Gaebler said.

Proponents of the ballot measures say cutting taxes stimulates the economy.  Dr. Paul Prentice, Ph.D. is a former economist with the Department of Agriculture during the Carter and Reagan administrations.  He is also a fellow with the Denver based think tank, the Independence Institute.

"Every study that's ever been done by any competent economist in the world has always shown that when you cut taxes the economy is strengthened," Prentice said. "When you increase taxes, send more money to the government, the economy gets weaker."

Eliminating 150 jobs would cut the library's total workforce by more than a third, and would increase unemployment in Colorado Springs.

Closing six branches would also limit the public's access to books, DVD's and computer labs.

"More people than ever use the library, more than 3.8 million visited the library just this past year," Gaebler said. 

But Prentice says the measures are necessary to keep government accountable to taxpayers. Proposition 101 in particular sets vehicle registration fees at $10 per vehicle.  In 2009 lawmakers increased registration fees to be capped at $100.  The move was criticized by tax reform advocates because it avoided the public vote requirement included in the TABOR amendment.

"Ever since we've had the TABOR amendment, the attempt to limit government, politicians have found ways around that," Prentice said. "These are really management tools for the public to keep more of their money, keep more money in the private economy and generate private jobs."

Proposition 101 would also lower the state's sales tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.5 percent in 2011. It would further reduce the rate by 0.1% each year until 2021.

Amendment 61 would prohibit the state from taking on debt in any form and restrict local government borrowing to a repayment period of 10 years or less.

Read more about the proposals in the 2010 State Ballot Information Booklet.

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