Ballot language sets tax rates for $950 million state education package
The group backing a proposed ballot question to raise taxes to fund public schools has settled on which measure it wants to place before voters in November.
Of the more than two dozen approved ballot titles on the same subject, each of which called for raising about $950 million for education in various ways, the group decided to push Initiative 22, which is a two-tiered approach.
Under it, Coloradans who earn $75,000 a year or less would pay a flat state income tax of 5 percent. Those who make more than that would pay a flat rate of 5.9 percent.
The state’s current flat income tax that everyone pays is 4.63 percent.
If passed, taxpayers who earn $75,000 a year would pay $277.50 a year more than they do now in income taxes.
“This measure is critical to driving economic well-being of both students and the state of Colorado in the future,” said Chad McWhinney, chief executive officer and founder of the McWhinney Development Company, a supporter of the ballot measure. “It’s a balanced plan that will make important improvements to our education-funding system while improving outcomes and accountability.”
The proposal would replace Amendment 23 passed by voters in 2000. That measure required increased funding to K-12 education by inflation plus population growth.
Instead, the new measure would require that 43 percent of all tax collections from the state go toward public schools, and that the proposed increase would supplement that funding, and not replace how the state funds schools.
Backers of the group, which now is calling itself Colorado Commits to Kids, said the recent recession has forced the state to cut more than $1 billion in school funding over the past four years, leaving Colorado at or near the bottom nationally when it comes to per-pupil funding, class sizes and teacher pay.
“It’s no secret that we need to invest more in education in Colorado if we want our students and state to have a bright economic future,” said Barbara Baumann, president of Cross Creek Energy Corp. and another supporter of the ballot measure. “The initiative will put high-quality teachers and principals in our schools and set students on a path to success.”
The group has until Aug. 5 to gather the 86,105 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the Nov. 5 ballot.
If the measure gets enough signatures to make the ballot, it would be known as Amendment 66.
If approved by voters, the measure would kick in a new school funding formula approved by the Colorado Legislature earlier this year that proponents say would guarantee that all school districts in the state receive more funding than they do now.
The new group created a campaign account with the Secretary of State’s Office, but has not yet revealed how much money it has collected to get the measure passed. Its first report is due July 1.
No opposition group has yet emerged, but the Colorado Republican Party released a statement Tuesday blaming Gov. John Hickenlooper and Democrats in the Legislature for trying to raise taxes.
“Most Coloradans would be shocked that Governor Hickenlooper and radical Democrats in the statehouse would fight to raise taxes on every Coloradan just as we are trying to emerge from one of the worst recessions in history,” Colorado Republican Committee Chairman Ryan Call said.
Last week, however, Hickenlooper said he was still undecided about whether he would back the measure.