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The Daily Churn: Wednesday


Updated 3:30 p.m. Legislative leaders today approved the language of the 2010 Blue Book, including descriptions of tax-slashing Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101.

The Legislative Council sat through nearly half an hour of complaints from proponent Doug Campbell, an anti-tax activist and associate of TABOR author Doug Bruce. Campbell said the council’s non-partisan staff, responsible for drafting Blue Book language, had “a very poor way of explaining to the voters what the actual effect will be,” and intimated the staff was biased.

Campbell was particularly unhappy with a section that analyzes the possible combined impact of the three amendments if all pass. He suggested several language changes, which he said were drafted by proponent Natalie Menten of Lakewood.

The council, made up of legislative leaders from both parties, didn’t take up any of those ideas and defeated a Republican-proposed amendment to move the three-amendment analysis to a less prominent part of the guide.

Amendment 60 would restrict the ability of local governments to retain excess property taxes and would cut school property taxes, among other provisions. Amendment 61 would prohibit state government borrowing and severely limit local government and school district borrowing. Proposition 101 would reduce state income tax rates, slash vehicle taxes and eliminate state and local taxes on telecommunications services. All three are opposed by a coalition of civic, business, education and government groups. The council made some minor wording changes to the description of 61.

The Blue Book, which will be mailed to registered voters statewide in a few weeks, analyzes the impact of all nine initiatives and referenda on the November ballot, including summaries of pro and con arguments.

It’s common in any election year for proponents of at least one initiative to complain about the staff analysis, but the council traditionally accepts the drafts with little change.

What’s churning:

The State Board of Education met at 9 a.m. for an informational hearing on the issue of how criminal charges against and arrests of school employees should be reported. This is a particular concern of Chair Bob Schaffer, R-4th District, sparked by missteps in the Poudre schools. Testimony was taken from education and law enforcement officials, citizens and other interested parties.

The national debate about evaluating teacher performance using so-called “value-added measures” continues to simmer across the nation. The New York Times weighs in today with a piece about the controversy, while the Los Angeles Times continues to command attention for its decision to publish a searchable database of 6,000 elementary school teachers’ value-added scores. Closer to home, the value-added issue was a topic of spirited debate yesterday on the EdNews blog.

What’s on tap:

The Metro State trustees meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Tivoli student union (agenda)

The Adams 12 Five Star board meets at 7 p.m. at 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton (agenda).

Good reads from elsewhere: