10/13/2010 02:14 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Bad Three Are Worse Than You've Heard: Here's Why

Each election cycle, Colorado becomes a Petri dish for dangerous experimental ballot measures. Thanks to the low standards needed to qualify either an amendment or a proposition to the November ballot in Colorado, we're subject to all manner of insanity. Add in the unscrupulous actions and some questionable machinations by the anti-tax nut Douglas Bruce, who brought the fiscally damaging TABOR policy to our state, and we're forced to deal with dastardly schemes like Amendments 60 & 61 and Proposition 101 during this go around.

Dubbed the Bad Three, this trifecta of measures has become the whipping boy of almost every individual and every group in the state. Indeed, it's quite remarkable to see the likes of Senator Josh Penry and Governor Ritter come out in unison against these measures. This across-the-spectrum opposition speaks to how poorly crafted and ruinous these initiatives would be for the state. Unfortunately, in the deep-pocketed world of ballot measures, opposition doesn't always translate into defeat at the ballot box. Here's why you shouldn't just oppose the Bad Three, but tell everyone you know to do so as well.

The measures eliminate many of the principal sources of revenue that fund essential state and local programs. It is clear they were written by someone with an anti-government ideology who knows exactly what they want to accomplish: cut essential state services to the bone -- rendering them ineffectual -- and thus create the façade that local and state programs are useless and wasteful. You can get the full summary of each measure and their impacts here, and watch a very entertaining video explaining their effects in plain English here, but the bottom line is this: If these three measures pass, our local and state governments will experience such a precipitous decline in funding that you can expect to see boarded-up shops, laid off teachers, and potholes--by the thousands across the state.

Although the general budgetary impact of the Bad Three is getting a lot of play, what's not being discussed much is the particularly devastating impact of these measures on our state's food and water resources. The damage will be significant:

Food impacts: These ballot measures will likely undo our work to create a more sustainable, just food system by:
• Eliminating state programs that bring food from local farmers to school children,
• Pulling local support for the construction of urban gardens, and
• Eliminating state technical assistance and other programs for independent ranchers and farmers.

Water Impacts: These ballot measures threaten our right to safe, clean water by:
• Cutting funds for local water utilities so severely that they are at great risk of being sold to private corporations,
• Opening the door for water bottlers to mine more of our state's water, and
• Ending programs that ensure our water is clean and help fix our aging water infrastructure.

This is scary stuff and everyone needs to understand what's at stake. When we consider them in the ballot box, we're really considering the values we hold as Coloradans and what we want in our local communities. So much would be lost due to the blanket anti-government, anti-community ideology that placed these measures on the ballot.

For these reasons, we have been inviting Coloradans to host house parties with their friends and family to talk about both why we need to vote no on the Bad Three and how we can build something to be proud of in the future -- a system that protects our right to clean water and build a more sustainable, just food system. I invite anyone who is interested to join us in these efforts.