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Schools could save money

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The Eagle County school board is supporting Amendment 59, which will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot and would create a savings account for Colorado schools to be used during tough economic times.

The savings account would be filled by surplus tax money that would normally be refunded under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, known as TABOR, which caps yearly increases in government spending. Under TABOR, if tax revenues exceed spending limits, that extra revenue is sent back to tax payers.

Under Amendment 59, that extra revenue would instead go to the State Education Fund, and around 10 percent of that would be put in an education savings account that could be tapped when the state is faced with cutting things like transportation and health care during a slow economy.



The Eagle County school board on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Savings Account for Education, also known as the “SAFE Initiative.” Board members Andy Arnold and Jason Benderly weren’t present for the vote.

“This would create a savings account that’s strictly for education, pre-school through 12th grade,” said board member Jeanne McQueeney. “It’s sort of a protection safeguarding education.”



While the Amendment would put money normally refunded under TABOR into education, it wouldn’t be raising taxes.

“It doesn’t violate TABOR and people’s right to vote on taxes,” McQueeney said. “That’s why it was really easy for the school board to get behind it.”

The resolution approved by the board states that Amendment 59 would address conflicting legislation in Colorado that makes school funding very difficult. Amendment 23, approved by voters in 2000, mandates an increase in public school funding every year, while TABOR places a cap on government spending.



Amendment 59 would eliminate those mandatory spending increases in education every year, beginning in 2011, but it would also allow the state to put away money specifically for education.

“If we really have an emergency in education, we’ll have money to cover it,” McQueeney said.

House speaker Andrew Romanoff and State Treasurer Cary Kennedy are leading a bi-partisan coalition backing Amendment 59, according to the Rocky Mountain News, and has the support of education organizations such as the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado Association of School Boards.

Opponents include many staunch supporters of TABOR, most notably outgoing state Rep. Douglas Bruce, R-Colorado Springs, who drafted TABOR.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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