LONGMONT – Across Colorado, voters are being asked to decide one statewide issue this November: whether to raise taxes to increase public education funding.
The measure, introduced by state Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, seeks to restore Colorado's sales, use and income taxes to 1999 levels: Sales and use tax rates would be 3 percent, up from 2.9 percent – a 3.4 percent increase – and the income tax rate would be 5 percent, up from 4.63 percent – an 8 percent increase – for five years beginning in January.
Opponents of a statewide ballot measure that would raise an estimated $3 billion in new taxes to fund education launched an attack against the proposal this week, claiming it will cost Colorado 119,000 jobs after five years and deal a "crushing blow" to the state's struggling economy.
But backers of Proposition 103 charged that opponents don't understand how to interpret their own data and countered that it's cutbacks to school funding, not higher taxes, that will harm the state's economy.
It's refreshing to see Coloradans tackle a problem and work toward a solution. That's what we witnessed today when supporters turned in more than 142,000 signatures for a ballot proposal that would raise $536 million each year through 2016 to halt steep cuts to education.
Imagine that – actually raising millions of dollars for K-12 and higher education. This, of course, comes after years of cutting millions from education.
The Bell Policy Center board of directors has endorsed the Bright Colorado initiative to temporarily return state tax rates to the level they were in 1999 while the state searches for a more permanent solution to its long-term structural deficit.
Senate Bill 11-1280 Testimony to the House Finance Committee Wade Buchanan, President April 21, 2011
My name is Wade Buchanan and I am President of the Bell Policy Center. The Bell Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy center and advocacy organization committed to making Colorado a state of opportunity for all. I am speaking today in opposition to HB 11-1280, which would reinstate the 6 percent annual growth formula for General Fund appropriations.
Almost three decades of constitutional amendments, legislative acts and economic ups and downs
To understand how Colorado finds itself in its current fiscal condition, it is helpful to look back at some critical decisions made by legislators and voters over the last 29 years, and at some of the economic and political factors that drove those decisions.
Colorado's minimum wage will increase by 12¢ next year, rising to $7.36, and that's good news not just for hard-working Coloradans but the rest of the state as well.
A calculation based on this year's inflation rate, an update of a formula approved by voters in 2006, is the reason for the wage increase, but the impact goes far beyond number-crunching. Workers and families in every community of the state will feel the benefits of this small but important change.
The resounding defeat of the fiscally destructive ballot measures, Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, is the latest, but not final, round in a critically important debate about Colorado's future.
Profound budget issues remain, as further cuts in critical services such as health care, education and transportation loom with a projected $1.1 billion state deficit in 2011.
The Bell Policy Center and ProgressNow Colorado, liberal organizations fighting three tax-slashing initiatives on the November ballot, have jointly produced a video that, at first glance, looks more like a children's show on PBS than a political message.