By Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver
(Castle Rock, CO) A grass-roots initiative to add close to $900 million to Colorado's P-12 schools without raising taxes has only a few more days to gather enough signatures for voters to approve or deny the effort on the November ballot.
Initiative 63 takes money from Colorado's taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR) surplus and dedicates it to the state's public and charter schools.
According to Great Education Colorado, "Colorado's strong economic recovery is producing rapid growth in revenues (under current tax rates), amounting to an estimated $5 billion above what the constitutional TABOR formula will allow the state to retain and spend over the next six years."
Initiative 63 would divert an additional ⅓ of 1 percent of taxable income collection and remove it from the TABOR surplus calculation. Under this formula, nearly $900 million would go to schools, leaving $1 billion for taxpayers in rebates.
Last November, a survey by Tulchin Research found that 60% of voters believe funding for K-12 education in Colorado should increase, and 65% of voters support the idea of dedicating more revenue to the state education fund without raising taxes.
Supporters must turn in 124,632 valid signatures to the secretary of state before August 8. Email info@greatedaction if you'd like to sign the petition.
How TABOR hurts Colorado schools
TABOR requires Colorado voters to approve any tax increase and limits how much tax revenue can grow each year. This fact means that school districts where taxpayers have approved tax increases (referred to as mill levies) can pay teachers and staff more, buy new programs, and fund other areas of education more than districts in tax-averse areas.
The Colorado Fiscal Institute states that TABOR greatly restricts the state's ability to fund schools because it prevents mill levies from floating and automatically cuts mill rates in districts that bring in money above the cap. TABOR also limits the state's ability to prop up schools with additional revenue.
Colorado funds its school less than the national average. Greater Education Colorado notes the state ranks “50th in teacher wage competitiveness—compares teachers to non-teachers with similar education, experience, and hours worked.”