Rowland, King, Hamilton back mill levy override for schools

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Home Loan President Jamie Hamilton speaks Tuesday during a rally at his business organized by Friends of School District 51, a campaign committee supporting a measure that asks voters for a mill levy override to increase property tax revenue for School District 51.

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland is all for cutting fat from government budgets.

But after slicing $28 million over the last three years, District 51 is probably out of fat, Rowland said Tuesday at a rally supporting Referred Measure 3B, which asks voters for a mill levy override to increase property tax revenue for the local school district.

Rowland said she rarely supports any tax increase and has made exceptions only for measures that support local schools. She said she chose to support 3B because she believes a cut that affects a student’s education is more detrimental than a county cut that, for example, may mean a longer line at a motor Vehicle office.

“The stakes are much higher with the cuts that happen to the schools than any other area of government,” she said.

Rowland, Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, and Home Loan President and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Hamilton spoke on behalf of the override at Tuesday’s rally at Home Loan. It was the second rally this fall organized by Friends of School District 51, a campaign committee supporting the mill levy override.

King, who also spoke at the first rally last month, said he supports the override because it offers a local solution. He said locals should not rely on the federal and state governments to provide an answer to education funding cuts.

Citizens frequently request that King change the School Finance Act of 1994, which provides District 51 with some of the lowest state funding per student in Colorado. But he is only one of 35 state senators.

“We will remain, quite frankly, and I’m being brutally honest, at the bottom of the School Finance Act until it behooves Eastern Slope schools to change it,” King said.

Rowland said she’s also in favor of a local measure and encouraged fellow conservatives not to condemn the override if they haven’t read the district’s budget book. Rowland said voters who assume there are more cuts available in the District 51 budget remind her of members of Congress voting for the Affordable Care Act without reading it.

“We were mad about that and now you’re taking a position on 3B that the budget’s too fat and you haven’t even read the budget?” Rowland said.

Hamilton said he sees it as a “personal responsibility” to support the override. He said his company hires people who are well-educated and have learned character, something he said District 51 has helped do for its students.

“It’s my responsibility to act, our responsibility to act, no more excuses,” he said.

The override will be decided on Election Day, Nov. 1. Mail-in ballots will begin arriving at Mesa County homes this week.


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