Chamber opposes school tax measure

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has come out in opposition of Amendment 66.

The measure on Nov. 5 ballots asks Colorado voters for permission to increase income tax rates from 4.63 percent to 5 percent for people earning $75,000 or less and 5.9 percent for people earning more than $75,000 a year. If the measure is approved, the $950.1 million raised in the first year the measure is in effect would go to kindergarten through 12th-grade education and reform state allocation methods for school districts via Senate Bill 213, approved earlier this year in the state legislature.

The chamber’s board of directors voted unanimously to oppose Amendment 66 after looking at fact sheets, meeting with Senate Bill 213 sponsor Sen. Mike Johnston and getting a recommendation from the chamber’s government affairs committee, according to Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Schwenke. Schwenke said the board wants education finance reform but had concerns about how an income tax increase would impact small, single-owner companies and local control of education. She said the 20 members of the board of directors are not opposed to a tax question “if necessary” but want to have more input in the formation of any future education-related tax measure.

“What got (the board) at the end of the day was 213 and 66 were not a collaborative process and local districts didn’t have as much of an opportunity to weigh in,” Schwenke said. “If this measure fails, we would really like to engage with local lawmakers and the local school board and have a well-thought-out discussion.”

District 51 School Board members voted 3-2 last Tuesday not to adopt a resolution opposing Amendment 66. Board members Ann Tisue and Jeff Leany voted for the resolution, which Tisue presented to the board at its Oct. 15 meeting. Board members Leslie Kiesler, Greg Mikolai and John Williams voted not to adopt the resolution, with Mikolai and Williams saying they personally oppose the ballot measure but did not want the board to take a stance on a “politicized” issue.

Colorado Mesa University trustees have not taken a stance on the amendment.

Supporters of the amendment, according to pro-66 group Colorado Commits to Kids, include the Roaring Fork School Board, Ridgway School District R-2, Colorado Association of School Boards and the Colorado Education Association, the teacher representation group that oversees local organizations like Mesa Valley Education Association.

Coloradans for Real Education Reform, an anti-66 group, lists among its supporters the chamber, Club 20 and Mesa County Republican legislators Sen. Steve King, Rep. Ray Scott and Rep. Jared Wright.



COMMENTS

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Typical response from yet another group that wants something for nothing. Better schools, higher accountability, but educators are supposed to manufacture that from straw and sandpaper.  So what ideas do these groups have to get some of the results they desire?

Many are against everything but don’t have any ideas to share that will actually help.

I don’t like it that the Chamber of Commerce has decided it is part of their role to endorse candidates or ballot questions. I wouldn’t like it any better if they told everyone to vote a straight Democratic ticket. I thought the Chamber was supposed to be a non-partisan group. Silly me!

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