As an educator and resident on the Western Slope, I encourage all Coloradans to examine and vote in support of Amendment 73 in the upcoming election.
According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2016 Colorado funded public education at $9,575 per student — more than 17 percent lower than the national average of $11,762 and 38th nationally. And according to U.S. Department of Labor data, despite having the 11th highest cost of living in the nation, Colorado has the 45th-ranked high school graduation rate in the nation at 77.3 percent and the 34th-ranked median teacher salary for educators. Such numbers suggest that Colorado can do more for all its constituents in order to ensure its continued social, economic and intellectual growth.
Amendment 73 offers an opportunity for Coloradans to support public education in a measure commensurate with its thriving economy, while still maintaining the low-cost, local-control measures that many Westerners expect from governance. The amendment raises income taxes on filers making more than $150,000 — fewer than 10 percent of Coloradans — while also stabilizing property taxes at a lower residential assessment rate (7 percent in comparison with 7.2 percent), ostensibly saving more than 90 percent of Coloradans money even as it better invests in the local schools that ensure the state’s future success and keep property values high. The corporate tax rate increase will also affect fewer than 10 percent of Colorado business pass-throughs, while keeping Colorado near the bottom (9th versus 3rd) of the 44 states with a corporate tax.
Amendment 73 also specifically denotes that all funding will be locally driven, giving the power to local districts to use the money to best serve their communities. Both Ouray and Ridgway school boards have passed resolutions supporting the amendment, in which they outline specific intentions, including better support for students with special needs and the gifted and talented, increasing both staff and district salaries, addressing transportation concerns, and crucially supplementing curriculum and programming for their students. School districts across Colorado have likewise spoken out in support of the amendment. Since 2009, more than $7.5 billion that would have gone to K-12 education has been withheld by legislators through what is termed the negative factor. Amendment 73 helps provide an equitable solution to this problem, one that will only be exacerbated should it not pass.
I encourage everyone to take more time to learn about Amendment 73 at greatschoolsthrivingcommunities.org, and learn how it can help both local school districts and public education in Colorado as a whole. I believe this amendment will help Coloradans better invest in our future and the opportunities that each of our children deserve. Thank you for your consideration.