1-minute ballot guide: Amendment 78 puts new guardrails on spending
Each year, Colorado lawmakers decide how to spend billions of dollars as part of the state budget.
- Billions more flow outside the process with less oversight.
Amendment 78 would end that practice and require all money received by the state to get appropriated by the General Assembly.
- The measure needs 55% approval for passage because it changes the state constitution.
How it would work: The new requirement would apply to money that comes from other sources. This consists of:
- Federal dollars appropriated through Congress
- Grants and donations to particular programs
- Legal settlements received by the state
Of note: The state estimates the total of these "custodial funds" at $21.4 billion.
- The vague nature of the ballot measure means even more money could be subject to the new rule, including revenues from college campus sports venues.
In favor: Supporters — primarily Colorado Rising Action, a conservative group that doesn't disclose its donors — argue the measure is about transparency, pointing to private dollars that flow to the governor's office for pet projects and others who funneled money to campaign donors.
- "We thought it was important enough to know how money is being spent," said the group's director, Michael Fields.
In opposition: The measure would give Colorado legislative budget writers more authority. But state Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, says it's unnecessary. He noted budget writers review how the funds are spent and could demand changes if desired.
- "It's essentially a partisan attack by right wing donors that is a solution in search of a problem," he says.
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