Letter: A case for Amendment 73
October 21, 2018
Do you think Colorado's kids deserve more than 39th place when our economy is in first place? Is your taxable income less than $150,000 yearly? If so, stop reading and vote "yes" on Amendment 73. If you need more information, read on.
Way back in 1982 we spent $232 per student more than the national average on our children's education. By 2015, we spent $2,162 less than the national average. Why? How did Colorado's kids get forgotten in this economic boom?
The answer is the one-two punch of Gallagher and TABOR. In 1982, the Colorado Legislature passed the Gallagher Amendment (the first punch) to maintain a constant ratio between residential and nonresidential property taxes. The residential property tax rate has been dropping ever since — from 30 percent prior to 1983 to 7.2 percent since 2017. Strapped local school districts and the state solved this problem by increasing mill rates and state spending; until 1992, when the second punch hit: TABOR, the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. School districts and the State Legislature could no longer raise taxes without a vote of the people.
The people attempted to help our underfunded schools in 2000 with Amendment 23, but the Legislature "creatively interpreted" it and "creatively re-interpreted it" in 2009 by creating the "Budget Stabilization" factor. Seriously folks, you can't make this stuff up. The Legislature chose to ignore the variables that increase costs for districts: size, cost-of-living, and the number of "at-risk" kids in a district.
Combine all these punches with inflation, and we sink to 39th place for education funding. So Colorado's kids get ignored, yet second-, third- and fourth-home owners are flocking here to cash in on the nation's third lowest property taxes, and big business is thriving.
Yet who will work at these businesses? Who will provide the skills and service needed to keep Colorado's economy growing? You guessed it: Colorado's kids.
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Our kids are better than 39th. Give them what they deserve. If you're one of 92 percent of Colorado's taxpayers who earns less than $150,000 a year, your income tax won't even be affected. Vote "yes" on Amendment 73.
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