Mental Health Colorado Announces Positions for 2020 Ballot Issues

Oct. 1, 2020

Media Contact:
Flora Welsh

Mental Health Colorado Announces Positions for 2020 Ballot Issues
The advocacy group supports paid family leave, nicotine tax, Gallagher Amendment repeal

DENVER—Mental Health Colorado is taking a position on four of the ballot issues being brought before voters in November. There are eleven total ballot issues—three are referred measures by the legislature, and eight are citizen initiatives. Mental Health Colorado supports paid family and medical leave, tax on nicotine products, and the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment. The organization opposes the state income tax reduction.

Paid Family Leave –SUPPORT

Mental Health Colorado prioritizes supporting families, which yields valuable returns in the long-term health of children and young people. The organization is in favor of proposition 118, stating that paid family and medical leave is an essential building block for healthy families, strong communities, and thriving economies.

“When we think about the purpose of a human community and the aim of supporting health across the lifespan, we must acknowledge that we are living in a society where many working people have to absorb a damaging financial setback when they take time off for family or medical reasons,” said Mental Health Colorado President & CEO Vincent Atchity. “There is something inherently unhealthy and inhumane about a society that makes Coloradans choose between paying their bills and providing a strong start for their children or caring for their own or a loved one’s health.”

Taxes on Nicotine Products — SUPPORT

The stress and isolation from the pandemic have left many Coloradans more vulnerable than ever to the potential harm of drugs and alcohol, making the successful passage of Proposition EE, Taxes on Nicotine Products, particularly timely. Mental Health Colorado supports the tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The new tax revenue will be spent on education, housing, tobacco prevention, health care, and preschool.

Repeal the Gallagher Amendment –SUPPORT

The legislature has referred the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment (Amendment B) to the ballot with strong bipartisan support. The decades-old amendment no longer works as intended and results in a reduction in local revenues that fund public schools, human services, and mental health programs. The repeal of the amendment will ensure that services and programs that are vitally important to individual and community health and wellbeing can remain in place and effective.

State Income Tax Rate Reduction –OPPOSE

More than half of the Coloradans who need care don’t receive it, yet limited public funding poses a constant threat of further reducing access to mental health and substance use care and other services that are essential to wellbeing, like education.  Mental Health Colorado opposes Proposition 116, which would reduce the state income tax from 4.63% to 4.55%. This reduction would save less than $100 per year for most Coloradans–the biggest tax savings would go to those with incomes of over $1 million per year. The greatest concern for Mental Health Colorado is that the measure would reduce state income tax revenue by $154 million in its first budget year, causing many Coloradans, especially children and young adults, to go without the health care and other vital services that they need to thrive and to contribute to the state’s prosperity.

“The mental health needs of Coloradans are dire,” Atchity said. “Even as we constantly hear about Colorado’s great economy and business growth, our state consistently ranks in the bottom third of the nation in terms of the magnitude of our health needs and the difficulties we too often face in accessing quality care. For healthier minds across the lifespan for all Coloradans, and to help our communities and the economy realize their fullest potential, it never makes sense to lower taxes.”

About Mental Health Colorado:

Mental Health Colorado is the state’s leading advocate in promoting mental wellness, ending shame and discrimination, and ensuring equitable access to mental health and substance use care. Mental Health Colorado is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and an affiliate of Mental Health America.