The 2008 Colorado Ballot

Colorado Amendment 66


The big issue to most people is this raises state income taxe rates by 0.37% on the first $75,000 of income and by 1.27% on income over $75,000.

(Most people don't understand this part - even if you are Bill Gates with umpteen billion in income, the first $75,000 of income is at the lower rate. So if your income in 100K, you pay the lower rate on the first 75K and the higher rate on the final 25K.)

This also removes the constitutional requirement that K-12 funding increase by the rate of inflation annually and instead requires that K-12 funding be at least 43% of state income. This part has pretty broad support as it adjusts better when we hit a recession.

It also changes the formula by which districts are allocated state funds. The districts that benefit from the change love it. Those that are hurt don't like this part (go figure).

The Giant Question

Will this increased funding improve our K-12 schools substantially? The honest answer is we don't know. If it does, this is a great investment. If it does not, then we've hurt our economy.

Historically increased funding has had no impact on the quality of education. Over the last 30 years K-12 funding has increased at twice the rate of inflation, with no measurable improvement in the quality of education provided.

On the flip side, in 2010 the legislature passed SB 10-191 and everyone involved in implementing the bill, from the teacher unions to supporters of vouchers have worked well together to design a good system that will help teachers improve, and remove those that cannot do a good job.

Will these funds go to retirement accounts or administration?

Directly? No. Indirectly? Yes.

The additional funds raised by these taxes must go to the classroom and to the SB 10-191 teacher improvement system. However, nothing stops the people crafting the budget from assigning more general funds to PERA and administrative overhead and have these funds pick up that difference.

Arguments Against

If you want to see the system improve before you provide more funding. If you think the present funding level is more than adequate. And/or you think this is an indirect way to get additional funding for PERA and administrative overhead - vote no.

Arguments For

If you think this increase will fund improvements in our schools, and those improvements will be significant. And you think this will not be used merely to indirectly increase funding to PERA and administrative overhead - vote yes.

My Vote

Samuel Johnson said "Second Marriages are the triumph of hope over experience." I'm hopeful and I'll vote yes. I'd prefer to see improvement before increasing funding. But progress is rarely that simple. Instead it requires small steps forward by each party. The K-12 system is implementing 10-191 in good faith. I think we now need to step up and provide additional funding.

And then watch what happens very very diligently.