My Side: How can kids be better off if we keep cutting education? |

My Side: How can kids be better off if we keep cutting education?

Rollie Heath
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Rollie Heath

Although uncertainty is prevalent in our communities, one thing seems certain to me: The cuts to our schools are threatening the opportunity for a whole of generation of Colorado students.

We can’t afford to wait to take action. More partisan wrangling and inaction guarantees more cuts to our classrooms, not only in the Roaring Fork Valley, but throughout Colorado.

Our kids can’t afford to wait for some perfect solution to come from Denver or Washington.

That’s why we wrote what is now called Proposition 103, a simple proposal that offers a five-year timeout from school cuts. Prop 103 restores the tax rates Colorado had throughout the 1990s and dedicates all the new revenue to preschool, K-12 and higher education. After five years, the rates return to current levels.

Prop. 103 will not only allow the Roaring Fork School District to make up for the cuts in the past three years that have reduced spending by $821 per student, but it will also re-establish Colorado as a leader economically.

As a businessman for more than 40 years, I have recruited many businesses to our state. I know economic development is directly connected to education. Employers need skilled workers and good schools for their employees’ kids. In order to ask businesses to take risks and hire more Coloradans we need to invest in our schools, from preschool all the way through college.

Some critics disagree with our approach to strengthening our economy and our communities by investing in our schools. These critics are long on doubt and short on answers.

Some suggest our economy is too unstable for new investments. I say there’s never a wrong time to do the right thing.

Today, families are paying more to ride school buses, as well as more for textbooks and tuition than ever before. Prop. 103 will keep classes from getting bigger and help keep college tuition from getting out of reach of middle class families.

Some argue that we should continue cutting funding from our schools until we achieve structural reform in our education system. I, too, worry our schools are not meeting the needs of all our students. As a result, I have been a leader in the legislature for reform that will increase performance and accountability in K-12 and higher education.

But what I can’t understand is how anyone thinks our kids will be better off if we continue to cut funds for our schools. We must have resources if reforms are to work.

Some simply say that Prop. 103 is a lie – that the money raised by this measure will never make it to classrooms. To those folks, I say read your ballot: “All revenues raised by the increase in taxes imposed pursuant to this measure … shall be appropriated by the General Assembly only for the cost of public education.”

Here’s the truth: Proposition 103 will bring about $3 million a year to the Roaring Fork School District. By 2014, the cuts of the past three years will have been undone. And if Prop. 103 fails, we will have more cuts to classrooms in Glenwood Springs and throughout the state. There’s nothing uncertain about that.

We have the chance, right now, to renew our commitment to our kids, our economy and our communities. Our kids and our college students can’t wait. Please join me in voting yes on Prop 103. Let’s do it for them.

– State Sen. Rollie Heath, a Democrat, has represented part of Boulder County in the Colorado Senate since 2009.

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