School funding amendment fails, East Grand superintendent reacts | SkyHiNews.com

School funding amendment fails, East Grand superintendent reacts

For the third time in eight years, Colorado voters turned down additional state funding for education Tuesday as Amendment 73 was on its way to being defeated.

As of 8:10 p.m., the amendment had 56.7 percent against to 43.3 percent in favor; the amendment needed a 55 percent super-majority in favor to pass.

Amendment 73 would have generated $1.6 billion through an increased tax scale on the state's flat tax (which is 4.63 percent) for those individuals and companies making between $150,000 and $500,000. That money would have been earmarked for pre-K through high school education in a new fund called the “Quality Public Education Fund.”

In Grand County, the amendment would have increased the East Grand School District's budget by $2 million and West Grand School District's budget by $800,000.

Opponents included a number of chambers of commerce and state associations for bankers, restaurants and Realtors. They contended the amendment language was too vague on how the money would be spent and would hurt businesses because of the tax increase.

East Grand Superintendent Frank Reeves said he was surprised by the results, but felt that the vote was against a tax raise, not against education funding.

"If you look at anything in Colorado that was a tax increase is a resounding no," Reeves said. "It's not just education, it's the people in Colorado don't want to pay more taxes for anything and it will eventually come back to haunt us. (…) At some point in time we've got to put more into our infrastructure and our education and those things that taxes pay for."

East Grand had planned to use the funds to invest in recruiting and retaining teachers, as well as expanding STEM and trade programs for students.

While the results mean the district can't fund those priorities, Reeves said the district will continue to do its best with the resources they do have.

"We will continue to do the very best we can for our kids," he said. "On a statewide basis, we will continue to fight to get education funding back the way it was before the Great Recession."

The two most recent attempts to increase spending for Colorado schools were landslide losses: Amendment 66 failed in 2013 (64.5 percent to 35.5 percent) and Proposition 103 in 2011 failed (63.2 percent to 36.8 percent).

David Krause, editor of the Aspen Times, contributed to this report.

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