Ballot measure to raise money 
for education is unnecessary

There was an interesting bit of irony this week when proponents of a measure for the largest tax increase in Colorado history delivered their petitions in school buses. There was also a bit of symbolism present, as well.

The irony was that, while the petitions delivered seek to raise taxes, yet again, for educating the children, the petitions being hauled to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office in school buses is probably the closest thing much of the revenue from this tax measure would have to do with directly educating children.

The symbolism is that the buses themselves are sort of like armored cars for big government interests. They haul around the assets they regularly trot out to try to leverage support for their political schemes.

The ballot proposal is practically a Jell-O dish of quivering delight for progressive interests. It both raises taxes and creates a progressive income tax system in a state that has never had one. What a score it will be with a new two-tiered system that raises taxes 7.4 percent on those making up to $75,000 a year and a 21.5 percent increase on those making over that amount.

The expectation is that the ballot measure will raise about $1 billion. I don’t think I should probably say “raise,” as that term implies a gathering of capital, as if it were some sort of stock offering, when in reality it is a removal of $1 billion from the private sector to be transferred to the public.

Once there, if history is a guide, large amounts will undoubtedly be diverted to the big three of modern education spending: bureaucrats, unions and indoctrination.

I use indoctrination fairly broadly, since I believe turning out fewer well-educated students ends up being indoctrination when coupled with the now grindingly entrenched liberalism present in most classrooms — whether teachers like it or not.

One humorous portion of this tax increase is software tracking that would allow, according to supporters, voters to see where all the money is being spent.

Anyone who follows politics can see the painful mimicking of the federal government’s trumpeted claim that taxpayers would be able to follow all the money spent in the recent federal stimulus programs. Remember how well that program worked? For instance, we were able to track money being spent in congressional districts that didn’t exist.

Here’s another puzzler from an Associated Press story quoting state Sen. Michael Johnston, a Denver Democrat and one of the sponsors of the bill that goes hand-in-hand with the ballot measure, saying that this is a bold plan that would bring “efficiency metrics” to education.

You know what’s a really a good metric to track the efficiency of education? Standardized testing. I’m looking at my crystal ball here, thinking Johnston is not a big fan of standardized testing and probably wouldn’t want to compare math, geography and reading ability between students who have significantly more dollars spent on their education today with those financially insufficient souls studying the same subjects in the ‘60s or even the ‘70s.

Many modern students may excel as advocates for global warming and open borders, but they might demonstrate a substantial disadvantage in pointing out what continent they live on.

The reality of this tax increase is that it’s not necessary. Colorado’s present tax collections are up and the state government could probably pay for many of the proposed programs without raising taxes — assuming they were useful.

One of the reasons supporters of this tax rocket want to glom on to more money is probably the serious problem present in the Colorado public employees’ pension arena.

The financial channel, CNBC, has an interesting story with a graphic titled, “Pensions in Peril,” that has a nice red dot over Colorado. It shows that public pension funding in the state is only at about only 60 percent and indicates more than $2.2 billion in unfunded liability.

Critics of the income tax increase point out there’s not enough language in the proposal to insure money will go where supporters say it will. That’s probably not an accident.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong. 


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Rick, as ususal you are blowing smoke. Have you read the actual initiative? Do you remember the court case that required the legislature to change how schools are financed? Have you ever seen the study by the University of Denver about Colorado’s financial future—including K-12 and higher education funding? Why don’t you do your readers a real service and provide some real information, instead of finding ways to bash unions, teachers, and anybody who thinks investing in the state might be both a good thing and necessary?

Here’s a link to the DU studies:

Here’s a more responsible take on the initiative:

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