When 2020 started, no one could have predicted the roller coaster ride we are on. Election season has extended the ride as voters will decide on 11 state ballot questions. Proposition EE is one, a $294 million tax increase asking Coloradans to pay for unidentified projects.
As a family-owned Boulder business going back three generations, including my 86-year-old father, we operate with transparency and accountability. We own and operate 157 gas, tobacco and convenience stores, including 60 in Colorado and employ nearly 800 people.
The proponents of EE claim the money is intended for pre-school education. Make no mistake, this is a slush fund for politicians. Several years ago, a marijuana tax increase passed supposedly to fund education, yet most school districts never saw a penny. Let’s not fall for the same smoke and mirrors again.
HB20-1427 was introduced with just 72 hours left in the legislative session. The 43-page proposal originated from a backroom deal and, then, legislators pushed it through the legislature with only 20 minutes of review. There was no public input and little discussion. Good public policy rarely happens in just 20 minutes and this bill, now a ballot issue, is proof of that.
The bill also includes a mandatory minimum price on packs and cartons of cigarettes, which will impact Coloradans who can least afford it, by increasing their costs by up to $1,200 a year. Using an anti-competitive pricing policy to drive out small business and harm consumers is not how we do things here in Colorado.
We have spent most of the year fighting to keep jobs, paychecks and ensure sanity around Colorado households. What our voters need now is a chance to recover before facing more unfair taxes proposed by our legislature.
Join my family and employees in voting no on Prop EE.
Mary Gallagher Szarmach is the senior vice president of governmental and external sffairs and a co-owner of Smoker Friendly and Gasamat, headquartered in Boulder.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.