Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ on Amendment 66 | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ on Amendment 66

Passing Amendment 66, thus funding Senate bill 13-213, is a must for Colorado. In order to understand why, it is important to know a bit about the history of education finance in Colorado.

In Colorado, our state Legislature functions differently than every other state in the nation. In Colorado, our legislatures cannot raise tax revenue. TABOR requires voter approval before any tax increase can be implemented. Over the past several years, the state budget has shrunk, eliminating more than $1 billion from schools. As a result, our state ranks in the bottom 10 percent of nearly every major education-funding-related statistic in the United States. Therefore, there can be no solution to our funding crisis without a vote of the people.

Amendment 66 increases individual tax rate on adjusted income from 4.63 percent to 5 percent on incomes up to $75,000. Incomes above $75,000 would be taxed at 5.9 percent on taxable state income. The cost to the average Colorado family will be $133 per year. Passage of Amendment 66 would raise about $950 million in new state revenue in its first year, bringing per-pupil funding to $7,427, about $200 higher than in 2009-10.

Opponents argue that more spending doesn’t necessarily yield better student achievement. They argue that the money will go to PERA and not the classroom. They argue that there is not an effective accountability measures for tracking the money. Some simply say, “no more taxes!”

The money raised by Amendment 66 will go into a new “state educational achievement fund” in the state treasury. “Money from that fund can only be appropriated by the Colorado Legislature to benefit students in Colorado’s public K-12 schools and preschool programs.” Additionally, the money raised by Amendment 66 “is constitutionally and statutorily prohibited from ever being used to directly fund PERA.”

Furthermore, “SB 13-213 requires a series of reports on the new system’s costs and on its return investment plus the creation of a state website that would include data on individual schools’ spending, including information on staff salaries and benefits.”

Amendment 66 will benefit Eagle County and all of Colorado! $4.3 million back into our local schools will help to decreased class sizes, increase individualized attention to all students, improved transportation, restore programs that have been cut, better technology, full day kindergarten for every student and the list goes on. This, guaranteed, will be good for students. Better schools will help to produce a better educated workforce to fill jobs in the future, lower unemployment, less need for social services and rising property values.

Finally, to those that simply say “no more taxes,” we, in Colorado, have the third-lowest state taxes in the country. If Amendment 66 passes, we will rank 12th lowest. We are all tired of the increased burdens that the federal government is placing on us. We have all seen out taxes increase, healthcare costs skyrocket and we are all feeling the pinch. However, we must not let the federal government drag the state of Colorado down. This is our state, our home, our kids and we must make a commitment to our next generation by doing for them what our parents did for us.

Vote “yes” on Amendment 66.

Kelly Pope