To All Colorado League members:
The League of Women Voters of Colorado Board of Directors met Wednesday, September 19 for their regular board meeting. One of the items on the agenda was to decide our positions on the various ballot proposals. As one ballot issue, Amendment 73, Funding for Public Schools, generated considerable discussion and debate, it merits a special explanation.
Briefly this amendment asks voters to allow for an increase of $1.6 billion yearly to fund Colorado’s public Schools to a level slightly less than the national average. “It would create a Quality Public Education Fund financed through a graduated income tax rate on taxable incomes above $150,000 and on “C” corporations. It would address the pressing needs of our local schools: at-risk populations, special needs, English Language Learner (ELL) students and gifted students.” Decision on using the new funds would be made at the local level.
The board’s discussion and ensuing examination of the amendment resulted in the state adopting the position: Support Amendment 73 with Reservations.
We realize the League has strong positions in support of public P-12 education and has historically been a champion for quality education in Colorado. We also realize that public education is critically underfunded and want to continue to support ways to improve this, but the board found that parts of Amendment 73 conflict with other positions concerning the fiscal needs of the state as a whole.
- As stated, Amendment 73 is a constitutional amendment that changes the state income tax rate for those making $150,000 and above and raises the corporate tax rate. It is likely this will also change the residential property tax as it affects school districts. It is also unclear how that may affect other districts dependent on their property taxes. Should Amendment 73 pass, any future changes to the provision or funding structure would need voter approval of 55%.
- The amendment’s new tax bracket does not allow income tax thresholds to adjust for inflation. This will remain in place unless changed by a vote of the people.
- Amendment 73 sets up a tiered property tax system. There is one rate that would be applied for school districts and another rate for the special districts found on your property tax bill. In future years the residential property tax would be higher. The non-residential property tax would be lower.
In developing this position the state board did not adopt this modified position lightly. We do support funding for education as our position indicates. But, as a multi-position organization we also need to be careful to consider each topic as part of the whole and give all relevant issues due consideration. This is an important League premise as well.
As we are most appreciative of the work involved crafting this amendment we want to ensure that all League members received an explanation regarding the board’s decision as quickly as possible. If you have questions please contact me.
Toni E. Larson, Ph.D
League of Women Voters Colorado
720-387-8487 (h); 303-249-2064 (c)