‘Yes’ on Amendment 66

There are a multitude of reasons to support Amendment 66, the public-school funding measure on this year’s election ballot. Perhaps most important for voters to understand is that the amendment, which will raise Colorado income taxes, does not push funding for public schools in this state to some extravagant new realm. It will only return funding for K-12 public education to the level it was at in Colorado prior to the recession. And it establishes multiple reforms in doing so.

A net gain for School District 51


Most people locally know that for decades, School District 51 has been at or near the bottom of Colorado school districts in per-pupil funding. Amendment 66 will change that by adding $830 in annual per-pupil funding for the district, plus additional money for low-income and special-needs students.

But there are additional financial benefits for the local school district and its taxpayers. Under the current Colorado school-finance formula, taxpayers here actually send more money to the state than the district receives in reimbursement for schools. Based on several different budget analyses, with the change in school-funding formula under Amendment 66, District 51 would see a net inflow of state education money of $1.5 million to $4.5 million a year.


Tax hit small for most Mesa County residents


A big reason that Mesa County will receive more than it pays is that, despite the claims of Amendment 66 opponents, the amount of additional money most Mesa County residents would pay as a result of Amendment 66 is relatively small, about $10 a month.

The amendment would boost state income taxes from the current rate of 4.63 percent to two new levels — 5 percent on the first $75,000 of taxable income and 5.9 percent on any taxable income over $75,000. So, if you’re a well-to-do family with taxable income of more than $100,000 a year, you will see a robust increase in your income taxes.

But most Mesa County residents don’t make that much money. The median household income in this county is $52,986 a year. Based on that income level, the average amount Mesa County households will pay is $122 per year — about $10 per month.


Statewide changes to reform education


Amendment 66 establishes a new funding requirement for public education by mandating that 43 percent of state income tax, sales tax and excise tax revenue be set aside annually to pay for public education. Although we’re not fans of budget measures being enshrined in the state Constitution, thereby limiting the ability of the Legislature to act as necessity dictates, in this case there is a sensible reason for doing so.

While it sets a base percentage that is to be spent on public education each year, Amendment 66 also repeals the requirements of Amendment 23. That constitutional amendment requires that per-pupil funding for education increase every year by at least the rate of inflation, and it contained no accountability requirements for how the additional money is spent.

In contrast, Amendment 66 requires the state to prepare a return-on-investment study and a cost study to help identify problems that affect student and school district performance. Additionally, the state is mandated to make detailed spending data available to the public regarding each school district and individual school. That’s information that is not readily available now.

The ballot measure, working in tandem with Senate Bill 213 that was passed by the Legislature this year, will also make a number of other needed changes in school operations.

For example, it provides increased funding for kindergarten and preschool programs. It also allocates money to help school districts implement earlier reforms, such as the 2010 measure that eliminates teacher tenure but requires evaluations of all teachers and principals. Finally, it changes the way a school district’s population is calculated. Instead of basing population on the number of students who show up a few days each October, per-pupil funding will be based on a district’s average daily enrollment throughout the year.

All of these are sensible reforms that, combined with restoring school funding to pre-2009 levels, will help improve schools statewide, and especially in District 51.

Vote “Yes” on Amendment 66.


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Kudos to the Daily Sentinel for another timely and profoundly courageous editorial: “’Yes’ on Amendment 66”.  In the midst of an over-politicized but ostensibly “non-partisan” School Board election, the Sentinel is eloquently speaking-up “for the kids”.

Even though every competing School Board candidate has – for a variety of ideological, substantive, and/or practical political reasons – expressed opposition to Amendment 66, the Sentinel offers multiple even-more compelling reasons to vote “Yes” – even in this traditionally fiscally conservative community.

If the purpose of School District 51 is to afford a quality (if not “world class”) public education to local youth, then it requires more funding.  Rather than further increasing property taxes, Amendment 66 provides a revenue stream tied to income – not property ownership.  At a time of both depressed property values and lowly average incomes in Mesa County, School Board 51 is likely to be a net beneficiary of Amendment 66.

However, District 51 requires more than just (hopefully) increased funding; it also needs a school board capable of overseeing the proper use of those funds for students’ benefit.

Thus, John Williams offers collaborative problem-solving experience that has earned the endorsement of both the Sentinel and the admiration of “conservative” Janet Rowland—who publicly recognizes Williams’ proven capacity for bipartisanship (“Williams has worked hard in a nonpartisan manner”).

Tom Parrish has decades of practical experience—both as a classroom teacher and as an administrator, mostly within School District 51.  As the Sentinel’s endorsement confirms, he brings precisely the kind of student-oriented practical expertise that any School Board would envy and which voters should embrace.

Greg Mikolai offers innovative ideas for upgrading the quality of education delivered to students within and outside the classroom, and the invaluable continuity of his already proven leadership and hard-earned experience – which voters should not readily discard.

Vote “NO” on Amendment 66

All the money being spent on pro Amendment 66 seems to be coming from unions.  And there is ton of it judging by the endless TV ads.

The real purpose is to repeal restraints on tax increases and would lead to even higher taxes. For earners making more that $75,000 has their state income tax raised to 5.9%.  This is a 26.6% increase.  With all the homes in fore closure in Mesa County do we really need a heavy handed tax increase.

The 66 ads implies that all the taxes collected will go the more teaches in the class room and not the administration.  This is pure hogwash.  The amendment states that at least 43% of state sales, excise, and income tax revenue must be spent on education.

This makes education untouchable in the future and makes is very difficult for our elected officials to set priorities.

This is also a money grab by Denver schools.  The rest of the state are estimated to get on 50 to 60 cents for every $1.00 the Denver schools get.

Recent study by CU Business Schools shows that there is virtually no difference between per pupil spending and changes in test scores and graduation rates.

I’m all for paying our teachers a fair wage, having modern school facilities, and smaller class sizes.  In fact, I have votes for every tax increase our elected official have forwarded.  I lived California and Maryland long enough to see the destructive nature of type of Amendments like 66.  My ballot has been cast!!

By the way, the legalization of pot was suppose to solve all our education funding problems.  Let just wait and let the excise tax money roll in!

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