Twentieth century French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was keen on constructing impenetrable monoliths of text about nothingness.
But his notion that the absence of something is just as important to an experience as the presence of something ties directly into this year's Colorado ballot initiatives.
Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101, would decrease state and local taxes and fees, decrease property taxes, and put new restrictions on government borrowing.
That might sound like a pretty good deal to voters at a time when the economy and government spending are capital concerns. But according to Corrine Fowler, the Economic Justice Director at the Colorado Progressive Coalition, these amendments should be framed by what is not explicitly stated.
"The initiatives are straight-forward and that's the scariest part," Fowler said. "It's the consequences of the tax cuts that are missing."
She says that these consequences include teacher firings, larger classroom sizes, cuts to after-school programs and bus services, reduced funding for police departments, fire departments, public health and libraries, and the elimination or delay of projects and services ranging from road repairs to snow plowing.
Fowler argues that these measures prey on the economic fears of voters who may be enticed by the prospect of financial relief.
"The amendments seem to provide tax and fee cuts to the community and put money in people's pockets, and at this time of economic crisis that sounds good to hard-working families. But it's misleading, because there is nothing in the amendments saying what programs and services will be cut. In this economic environment, it's easy to sway people with financial motivations."
The Colorado Progressive Coalition hits the road today with this message in a ten-date Civic Engagement Roundtable Ballot Tour designed to inform voters on these ballot measures.
Local politicians and business owners will be on hand to explain the real-life impact that these measures will purportedly have.
"We'll state the facts," Fowler said, "but we also want to bring to light the unintentional consequences and misleading nature of the initiatives. People have a difficult time connecting their tax dollars to the services they fund, and these amendments are misleading especially now, when financial insecurity is such an issue."
Two other amendments that will be high on the discussion list are Amendment 62, an anti-abortion measure aimed at defining fetal personhood, and Amendment 63, about whether the state should require Coloradans to purchase health care.
Check out the actual ballot measures here.
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