Ballot initiative could mean big bucks for local schools |

Ballot initiative could mean big bucks for local schools

A state advocacy group is currently seeking signatures for a proposed ballot initiative that would increase school funding across Colorado if approved by the voters in November.
Courtesy photo

As teachers in several states stage strikes in an effort to garner additional resources, one Colorado advocacy group is taking a different approach by proposing a ballot initiative for this November’s election.

Great Education Colorado Action, a nonpartisan advocacy organization focused on improving public education, has put forth a ballot initiative for the 2018 November election. The new measure, Ballot Initiative No. 93, seeks to increase school funding across the state through the implementation of a new taxing regimen for Colorado citizens and businesses.

According to East Grand School District Superintendent Frank Reeves, if the ballot measure is approved, East Grand would receive an additional $2.3 million in operational revenue per year. Reeves noted that the district currently operates with an annual budget of roughly $10 million, though the district’s annual budget back in 2007 was closer to $12 million. From 2009 to 2013, the district eliminated 40 positions from its workforce.

“We have added a few back, but we haven’t added 40,” Reeves said of the jobs. “It is almost hard to describe what that money would do for us. I’m not saying give it to us because you owe it, but give it to us because you will see an even better education for our kids. Give us this and we will really show you return on investment.”

According to Reeves, Colorado is ranked 50th in the nation in terms of teacher pay compared to cost of living.

The ballot measure has not been formally approved for the November election and its advocates are currently in the signature-gathering phase of the process. Haley McClure, spokesperson for Great Education Colorado Action, gave a presentation on Thursday to a small group of local citizens and school district officials during a public meeting held at the East Grand District Offices. The presentation focused on both the fundamental basics of the ballot initiative GECA has proposed as well as a plea to local citizens to sign a petition in support of the initiative and to serve as signature gatherers for their efforts.

The specific ballot language GECA hopes to put on the November ballot can be found on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website by searching for “Ballot Initiative #93”. The proposed initiative would levy an additional tax on individual incomes above $150,000 in a series of four tax brackets. Individuals making $150,000 would see a tax increase of .37 percent, the lowest bracket under the proposed taxing regimen, while individuals making $500,000 or above would seen a tax increase of 3.62 percent, the highest bracket under the proposed imitative.

“It is important to note that this is a tax increment, the tax is only for the dollars within that (income) range,” McClure said. “If you make $160,000 you only pay the .37 percent additional tax on income above $150,000.”

Additionally, C corporations would see a corporate tax increase of 1.37 percent. According to McClure, the proposal would not increase taxes on S corporations, Small-Business corporations, sole proprietorships or LLCs.

The proposed ballot initiative, if approved by Colorado voters, would also result in a reduction in the residential property tax assessment rate from 7.2 percent to 7 percent. Nonresidential properties would see a five percent reduction, going from the current rate of 29 percent to 24 percent.

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