EDWARDS Colorado needs to do the right thing, and a statewide tax increase for schools is it, said an advocate campaigning for it in Vail.
There is never a bad time to do the right thing, said Carol Hedges, fiscal project director with the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit that Hedges says works on behalf of economic justice for all Coloradans.
Proposition 103 expires after five years, if voters approve it in this election. That makes it a Band-Aid, not the solution to the states education funding problems, Hedges said.
If it doesnt pass, Colorado will bleed another $250 million to $300 million another $200 per student, she said.
Is there any kid or any school in Colorado that would be better off if we cut another $200 million from education? Hedges asked.
Hedges called Proposition 103 the pass-this-so-we-dont-suck-any-worse-than-we-already-do proposal.
We must avoid the mindset that we can have reform without resources, she said.
This is not The Powers That Be promoting this, Hedges said. This is a group of people whove said that enough is enough, and we cannot endure more of these cuts.
Proposition 103 would increase the state income tax and sales tax for five years, while state lawmakers look for a permanent funding solution. Education consumes half the states budget and it was cut along with everything else the state funds.
Colorados taxes are low compared to most of the country, Hedges said.
We dont pay much in taxes and thats why we dont spend much on education. Its not rocket science, she said.
Proposition 103s ballot language would guarantee 2012-level funding, and any additional money the measure would raise would go to education, Hedges said.
Because its a statewide tax increase, it needs statewide voter approval according to Colorados TABOR Amendment. No other state does that, Hedges said.
In Colorado, we believe in direct democracy, Hedges said. Thats why we do this a lot, talk about public finance.
The Colorado state Legislature cut income taxes in 1999 and 2000, Hedges said. Meanwhile, Colorado voters passed two measures aimed at solidifying education funding Amendment 23 and Referendum C.
When the recession pushed Colorados finances over a cliff, state lawmakers began using Amendment 23 language to find ways to keep from funding schools, Hedges said.
When our personal income drops, so does the revenue available to the state, Hedges said. Our economy is not working. Weve experienced back-to-back recessions.
That has combined to force schools to ask for more money, Hedges said.