In the News
SENTINEL ENDORSEMENT: Don’t fall for false arguments against Amendment 73 — it’s a fair, realistic way to fund needy schools
The argument proponents are making for Amendment 73 — raising taxes for schools — is about improving a deficient public education system. The argument critics are making against the measure are glaring red herrings.
Don’t be fooled by specious arguments that voting for a measure that raises taxes only on the state’s wealthier and wealthiest residents has anything to do with firefighters and library districts. It’s a ruse.
There are numerous politicians and pundits who are proud that Colorado chronically spends less on public education than almost any other state in the nation. It’s unsurprising they would either be confused by or congenitally opposed to a measure that raises corporate and some income taxes to boost school spending.
The embarrassment of how we mishandle public education in Colorado has long been the dark side of this sunny state. For years, actually decades, state lawmakers have been unwilling or unable to adequately fund our public schools.
Amendment 73 leverages Colorado’s strong economy to benefit our communities by asking the highest earners and “C” corporations, to contribute more to Colorado’s public schools, the cornerstone of our democracy.
Here’s how some Colorado school districts would spend their share of a $1.6 billion tax hike for education
If Colorado voters this November approve a $1.6 billion tax increase to benefit schools, several metro-area districts are pledging to spend part of their share to boost teacher pay.
Raising teacher salaries is an idea that’s gaining political popularity, fueled by teacher protests around the country and here in Colorado, where education funding is below the national average and several recent studies have found teachers are dramatically underpaid.
School boards in at least 70 of the state’s 178 school districts – including Denver, Aurora, Jeffco, Adams 14, Westminster, and Sheridan – have passed resolutions in support of the statewide tax increase, called Amendment 73. Some have also specified what their districts would spend the money on.
SALIDA, Colo. — Retired English teacher Annette Barber sat reminiscing on a bench outside her rural southeastern Colorado hometown's first schoolhouse, a red-brick building out of a storybook, erected in Crowley a century ago.
Barber and her husband Jerry, who grew up in a nearby town, graduated from the University of Northern Colorado's teaching program. They worked in communities across Colorado before returning to Crowley. Barber recalled small-district superintendents were eager to hire them both.
"They thought, 'If we get a couple, they'll stay,'" says Barber, who taught her last years before retirement in Crowley, a district with fewer than 500 students.
Some 30 years after the Barbers were first hired, superintendents still struggle to lure teachers to remote, isolated towns on Colorado's eastern plains, western ranchlands or in mountain hamlets, says Harvey Rude, founder of the Colorado Center for Rural Education. Programs at the center, which is focused on finding ways to address the teacher shortages, include distributing state-funded stipends of $2,800 each to college students who train in rural districts and commit to teaching in such districts for at least three years.
Cathy Kipp was at a recent back-to-school night at Kruse Elementary School in Fort Collins. She was handing out flyers and printed information about Amendment 73.
"This is game changing," said Kipp, a member of the Poudre School District Board of Education. "This would be the best increase in public school funding that we've been able to get in decades in Colorado."
Amendment 73 would raise $1.6 billion annually through a tax increase on corporations and individuals and families earning over $150,000 a year, which is about 8 percent of state residents.
[Column behind paywall. Please support journalism by subscribing]
We love Colorado.
Like so many others who have chosen to live in our state, we love the quality of life, the open spaces, extraordinary vistas, and the feeling that this is a place where one person – or a group of people – can truly make a difference.
That’s why, over the past two years, we have been part of a historic process to make critical changes that we believe are long overdue, especially in how we, as Coloradans, invest in our children and our future. Over 20 organizations representing Colorado’s diverse places and people together developed a plan to increase funding for public schools and make our tax system more balanced and fair.
From the South Platte Sentinel Editorial:
Get informed on November ballot initiatives
Should Colorado schools get more funding? That is just one of the issues Colorado voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on in the November election.
While it may seem like the election is a ways off right now, ballots will be in the mail in just two short months. We encourage you to take the time now to get informed about the issues you will be voting on.
Chalkbeat: A $1.6 billion initiative to benefit Colorado schools, paid for by higher taxes on corporations and wealthier individuals, will appear on the ballot this November.
Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said on Thursday that supporters of the measure had more than met the signature requirements.
Supporters of the effort, dubbed Great Schools, Thriving Communities, turned in 179,390 signatures last month, of which 130,022 were deemed valid. They needed just 98,492 valid signatures to get on the ballot. Under more stringent requirements adopted by voters in 2016, those signatures also needed to represent 2 percent of the registered voters in every state Senate district.
Blair Miller, Denver7
Colorado voters will decide whether or not to amend the state constitution to raise taxes for some of the state’s top earners in order to bolster K-12 education funding and teacher salaries.
Initiative 93, also called the Great Schools, Thriving Communities ballot initiative, is the first ballot measure brought by citizens to make it onto November’s ballot.
Ed Sealover, Denver Business Journal
A proposed increase in corporate and individual income tax that would create a $1.6 billion annual boost in education funding will be on the November ballot, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced Thursday.
Amendment 73, as the proposal is now known, is the first of seven ballot initiatives submitted by state residents to be cleared as having enough signatures to go before voters in the Nov. 6 election. Of the 179,390 signatures submitted by organizers, 130,022 were determined to be valid — far more than the 98,492 needed to go up for a statewide vote.