Dave Moloney: Beware Amendment 66

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Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. This November you will be asked to vote in favor of Amendment 66. This billion dollar per year tax increase, masked as education reform, will take money out of the pockets of Colorado taxpayers, cost districts such as Steamboat far more than will be returned to our schools, limit the ability to control education costs in the future and provide no assurance that these changes will lead to improved academic performance.

Amendment 66 will raise the income tax rate by 8 percent on taxable income up to $75,000. Taxable income above $75,000 will be taxed at a 27 percent higher rate than currently is collected. This would be one of the largest tax hikes in Colorado history. With many Coloradans still struggling to make ends meet, this money grab simply is irresponsible and will hurt Colorado’s fragile economic recovery.

Passage of the amendment also would trigger a new education funding formula detailed in SB 13-213, a bill co-sponsored by our House Representative, Diane Mitsch Busch, and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

According to an analysis by local school board candidate Roger Good, the increase in taxes on Steamboat residents is estimated to be about $6.5 million. The amount of funding that would come back to our school district would only be about $1.5 million. That is a loss of $5 million from our local economy.

The amendment also would change the Colorado constitution to mandate that 43 percent of all state income, sales and excise tax revenue be set aside annually for education. This fixed percentage will prevent any future attempts to find savings in the education budget. It makes more sense to allow a flexible percentage, as currently exists, so that when adjustments are needed, they can be made. Creating permanent budget requirements in the Constitution is an ill-conceived approach to budgeting.

Lastly, there is no sunset provision in the amendment to roll back the increases if no demonstrable increase in academic performance is achieved. This lack of accountability is unacceptable given the size of this tax expansion.

While providing quality education is a worthwhile pursuit we all can get behind, the state budget also must consider the funding for other essential services such as providing health care and human services for thousands of Coloradans, maintaining thousands of miles of roads, millions of acres of land and parks, paying the cost of courts, law enforcement and prisons, as well as providing for environmental protection and wildlife management. Any of these could experience budget cuts in the future because of the Constitutional change.

Colorado can do better. Vote “no” on Amendment 66 and ask Diane MitschBusch why she is pandering to special interests at the expense of her constituents.

Dave Moloney

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