Prop. 103 tax hike is certified for ballot

Colorado voters will get a chance to decide this fall if they want to raise taxes for five years to benefit the state’s schools.

That will happen because Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced Wednesday a petition effort to get such a question on the November ballot had turned in enough signatures of registered voters to qualify.

The measures, which will appear on the ballot as Proposition 103, call for increasing the state’s sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent and hiking the personal and corporate income tax from 4.63 percent to 5 percent for the next five years.

Proponents say such an increase would raise about $536 million a year, most of which would go toward K–12 education, but some of the money would benefit the state’s colleges and universities.

“Coloradans will finally have the chance to decide whether to allow another round of devastating and short-sighted cuts to classrooms or to reinvest in our schools, our communities and our economy,” said state Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, who led the petition effort. “As we collected more than 142,000 signatures, Colorado voters reinforced to me that support for our schools runs broad and deep throughout the state.”

The announcement that the proposition made the ballot drew immediate condemnation from opponents, who said the poor economy makes this the wrong time to raise taxes.

House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, said the best way to increase money to schools is by creating more jobs.

“Democrats don’t get it,” McNulty said. “Colorado’s hardworking families and job creators are struggling to survive in this recession. The last thing they need right now is Democrats pushing another state tax increase.”

Proponents of the measure turned in petitions Aug. 1 with 142,824 signatures from voters across the state. Gessler’s office determined, through random sampling, that at least 98,369 of them were from valid registered voters.

To make the ballot, such petition efforts need at least 86,105 signatures of registered voters.


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