Letter to the Editor – Vote No on Proposition EE

This Letter to the Editor is solely the opinion of its author.

It does not reflect the opinion of this newspaper.

We intend to present messages from both sides of the aisle.

By Hugh McKean, state representative from Loveland, Colorado.

As election day approaches, I am writing to encourage residents to vote no on Proposition EE, a $294 million tax increase. As our economy recovers from COVID-19, now is not the time to raise taxes on any Colorado voter. In addition, EE is a blank check for the Legislature and creates a slush fund to spend on unidentified projects.

Proposition EE directly targets middle-and-low-income families. A tax that only impacts approximately 14% of Coloradans who use tobacco products and of that percentage, 80% make around $40,000 per year or less in not the solution. The massive tax hike would severely burden this vulnerable community by forcing them to pay a larger percentage of their income for consumer goods. This tax hike could cost them up to $1,200 for one year. As they struggle to make ends meet for their families, Prop EE comes at a time when they have been economically disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Hugh McKean, 2020. Photo courtesy of Hugh McKean

I have seen the negative impacts COVID-19 has had on small businesses and the $294 million in additional taxes is not what businesses need right now. As a result of the statewide lockdown, many small businesses permanently closed their doors and were forced to lay off employees. As these small businesses attempt to recover from COVID-19, we must not further hinder its recovery efforts.

Additionally, organizations and legislators endorsing Proposition EE claim funding will go to preschool education. However, no funding will go to preschools for at least two-and-a-half years, if ever. Proposition EE does not state the legislature must spend funds gathered from this tax on preschool. In fact, all funds generated by EE will go into the states General Fund. As a father, I am displeased our legislators are using preschool education to further their policy agendas.

Advocates also encourage Coloradans to vote for EE to benefit public health. If the purpose of Proposition EE is to discourage smoking, then all revenues should be used for cessation. Instead, only a small amount will be spent on existing cessation programs. This ballot measure does not help Coloradans.

Finally, the State of Colorado released an unreliable and inaccurate Blue Book, which is a guide to help Coloradans decide on ballot. The 2020 version has omitted key details voters deserve to know ahead of the November election including that Prop EE is a $294 million tax hike. Additionally, Prop EE will significantly increase the price of discount cigarettes, through an anti-competitive, anti-consumer, state minimum cigarette price that will be the only one of its kind in the country. And, money promised for preschool will not be available for at least two-and-a-half years and maybe never; money generated by Prop EE, if passed, is effectively a blank check for the State Legislature.

Coloradans deserve better.

Join me in voting NOon Proposition EE.