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There is a measure on the November ballot—Proposition 104—that is about government transparency, a popular concept among voters in Colorado. However, there are a number of problems with this measure that voters should know. This is a classic good politics/bad policy initiative. Coloradans need to do their homework on Proposition 104 as well as the campaign behind Proposition 104.

What does Prop. 104 do?

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One-size-fits-all

Language: “Colorado Revised Statutes”

Colorado school districts can already hold their negotiations in public and several already do. They don’t need another statewide mandate forced on them.

Biased

Language: “any meeting between any representative of a school district and any representative of employees”

This means that school boards would now have to reveal their bargaining strategy in public.

Overly Broad

Language: “at which a collective bargaining agreement is discussed to be open to the public”

Because the measure uses the word ‘discuss’ instead of ‘negotiate,’ this means hundreds of day-to-day conversations in the school districts would require 24-hours notice and a press release.

What this really means…

Proposition 104 is overly broad. Open and accountable government is a good thing, but this overly broad measure will create unintended consequences and put a burden on districts across Colorado. Specifically, Proposition 104 calls for all “discussions” about collective bargaining agreements between districts and their employees to be open to the public. This broad, vague wording could mean that everyday conversations that occur between teachers and administrators about things like snow days, student schedules, and professional development could also have to be made open to the public.

If that one word were changed to “negotiate” then this would be an entirely different ballot measure. But that can’t happen now. If the backers of Proposition 104 had worked with school districts to discuss the measure they could have avoided this major issue.

Proposition 104 will force school districts to discuss their negotiation strategy in public meetings. Right now some districts already choose to do this, but others choose not to because they do not want to reveal their strategy too early in the negotiating process.

Proposition 104 is fiscally irresponsible. It provides no additional funding for local school districts to pay for the increased bureaucracy and legal bills that would now be required to comply with this new statewide mandate, especially if it applies to everyday practices. Again, if the language were more precise, then the costs would not be so high. But if legal council needs to evaluate everyday practices, not only will that cost many billable hours, it could grind districts to a halt.

Proposition 104 goes too far. Oversight is important, but this proposal doesn’t just cover negotiations about how tax dollars are spent. It will require public meetings for almost everything regarding an individual teacher’s job.

Proposition 104 is another one-size-fits-all solution dreamed up by special interests. The principle of local control is extremely important in a state like Colorado, and this measure strips away the local control that school districts need to best serve their students and community. What is good for one school is not always good for every school. Rural districts in particular don’t need another unfunded mandate forced on them from a Denver special interest.

Who is behind Prop. 104?

Proposition 104 was not developed by a coalition of diverse interests. It was developed by the Denver-based Conservative Think-Tank called the Independence Institute.

The Independence Institute has not disclosed who is funding this ballot initiative effort. They have utilized a loophole in campaign finance laws to report $273,167.75 in contributions as “non-monetary”.

Take a look for yourself

The proposal was developed without the input of the teachers and super- intendents who regularly conduct open bargaining sessions. If they had, then the language might have been more narrowly tailored to achieve their goals.

About Us

Local Schools, Local Choices is a group of educators, superintendents and other education advocates. We are believers in transparency. The donors to our committee are fully disclosed with the Secretary of State.

Click here to see the latest report

Request a speaker

To request someone from the Local Schools, Local Choices Campaign to speak at your upcoming event, please fill out the form below:

In lieu of a spokesperson, we can also provide a letter stating the reasons why we need to fix Proposition 104 for your group’s event.

Media Request

If you are from the media and wish to speak with someone from the Local Schools, Local Choices campaign, email Courtney Law or call her at (720) 722-3108.

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