Tax proposal for Colo. schools makes ballot

DENVER — A proposal to increase Colorado income taxes to pay for school upgrades will appear on the November ballot after election officials determined Wednesday that proponents gathered enough signatures for the petition.

The tax increase barely got enough valid signatures even though supporters turned in nearly twice as many as required. The Colorado secretary of state’s office announced that 89,820 signatures were valid. That’s 3,715 more than what’s needed to get on the ballot.

Supporters of the tax increased had turned in 165,710 signatures, but many were invalid.

The tax proposed would raise nearly $1 billion a year for education upgrades including expanded kindergarten and preschool, and more attention for disabled students and students learning English. Voter approval of the tax is required before a new school-funding overhaul law takes effect.

The taxes would also pay for what supporters call the nation’s first tracking software allowing voters to see how their local district spends every dollar on teacher salaries, pensions, classroom instruction, tutoring and other expenses.

Supporters of the proposed changes say additional money is needed to implement them. Colorado’s current income tax rate of 4.63 percent would be raised to 5 percent on earnings up to $75,000 a year and 5.9 percent for earnings above that threshold.

A person with a taxable income of $45,000 would pay an additional $166.50 a year. Someone with a taxable income of $100,000 a year would pay an extra $595 annually.

“This is our best chance to invest in the future of Colorado and to ensure each child has access to a high-quality education,” said Gail Klapper, director of the Colorado Forum, which has been working with the business and education communities on the initiative.

Every Republican in the Colorado Legislature opposed the proposal to redefine how schools are financed.

Opponents say the tax hike is too big and argue it doesn’t make the correct changes to fix schools. Some wanted more money for charter schools, and others wanted stronger safeguards to make sure the extra money is spent only on the changes supporters tout.


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