Vic Vela- THE COLORADO STATESMAN
A new law will allow Colorado voters to know the fiscal impact of a ballot measure before petitions are circulated — a heavily debated effort that seemed doomed in the final hours of the recent legislative session.
The state had already been required to provide voters with cost-impact estimates of ballot measures, prior to an election. But House Bill 1057, which was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday, accelerates that process so that voters will know a proposal’s cost before they are asked to sign a petition.
In addition to fiscal impact estimates appearing in voter Blue Book election guides, the new law requires that estimates of a measure’s impact on government revenues, spending, taxes and fiscal liabilities be summarized on initiative petitions.
“Shouldn’t we know what the fiscal impact is going to be if we are going to propose putting something into the Constitution?” said Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, a bill sponsor.
Court said that fiscal notes are attached to bills before being considered by lawmakers and that the public should be afforded that same information. The Colorado Legislative Council makes those calculations for lawmakers and is also responsible for preparing fiscal impact statements for ballot initiatives.
“This is about just making sure that we are going to strengthen democracy, that people have the real information so they know what the possible costs are going to be,” Hickenlooper said at the bill signing, held inside Denver’s History Colorado Center.
The bill received bipartisan sponsorship and support. Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, said voters deserve transparency before they are asked to sign a petition.