Ben Beall: Vote for 66

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Dear editor,

Like everyone else, I have been trying to learn as much as I can regarding Amendment 66. No one can deny that Amendment 66 is important to the citizens of Routt County and Colorado. This amendment will change the statewide financing of preschool through 12th-grade education. It is my opinion that the new education financing system established under Amendment 66 will improve the following:

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■ It increases state tax revenues for P-12 in order to improve Colorado’s public education.

■ It changes the funding requirements as established under Amendment 23 of 2000.

■ It shields public education funding from the future negative impacts of TABOR revenue restrictions.

■ It increases accountability in the public education system.

■ It funds preschool and kindergarten, thus P-12 not K-12.

As a former Routt County commissioner who has created regulations and dealt with taxation issues, I know that the legislative process never is perfect. We all should be working on solutions to problems. We all know that in Colorado, there is a problem with funding public education. Colorado is ranked 41st out of the 50 states in per-pupil public education funding. We should be ashamed!

The Colorado Legislature, led by Rep. Mike Johnston, passed legislation that is the basis for Amendment 66. Rep. Johnston toured the state with different iterations of Amendment 66 and received local input from our three school boards. Considering the complexity of school financing, Amendment 66 is a worthy effort for solving our public school financing issues. Anyone can point a finger at any complex legislation. We should be ashamed of those who point fingers without offering solutions.

In order to increase the revenues for P-12, Colorado needs to raise taxes. Amendment 66 raises income taxes. Amendment 66 returns the rate of taxation for incomes of $75,000 and less to the rate of 5 percent. This was the going rate until the Legislature unadvisedly reduced it in 2000. It increases the income tax rate to 5.9 percent only for taxable income earned more than $75,000.

Are we becoming a selfish community? I find myself embarrassed to think this way! Routt County and especially Steamboat Springs is a rich community. Steamboat Springs RE2 receives increased funding from Amendment 66. Are we so selfish that we would deny greater increases to more disadvantaged school districts? Are we so selfish that those of us who make more than $75,000 would not be willing to contribute more than we did in the past to the public education system in Colorado, including South Routt and Hayden?

Increased opportunities for a better education for all of Colorado’s public school students including charter schools will increase the economic opportunities for all. As the saying goes, it will “raise the boat.” For those deniers in the Steamboat Springs community, Amendment 66 will “raise the ’Boat.” A vote for 66 makes good business sense. A vote for 66 is a vote for the ’Boat.

Thank you for listening.

Ben Beall

Former Routt County commissioner

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