Yes on Amendment 66: The right choice for Colorado schools

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This fall, voters have the chance to make an investment in Colorado’s future that will help us rebound from the more than $1 billion in recent state cuts to K-12 schools and will make Colorado a leader in public education reform.

If Amendment 66 passes, schools can provide smaller class sizes, more one-on-one attention to every student and ensure districts have the flexibility to restore funding for things like art and music classes, sports programs and transportation.

Additionally, Amendment 66 provides money for classroom technology, longer school days and school years and early education in the form of full-day kindergarten for everyone who wants it. Importantly, it will eliminate the Colorado Preschool Program waiting list, giving more than 25,000 at-risk children a chance to enroll in preschool. It will help create a more level playing field for rural schools — a significant point for districts like Steamboat and South Routt. It will put effective educators into our classrooms, give principals more control over their budgets and requires state reports on how the system is stacking up.

Our state has passed significant education reforms during the past five years but have lacked the funding to be properly implemented. Amendment 66 will help pay to more thoroughly implement some of these notable reforms, including setting statewide standards for what students need to know at every grade level, holding schools and districts responsible for student achievement, ensuring all students have highly effective teachers and requiring every child to be reading at grade level by the third grade.

Every school district in the state will see an increase in funding under Amendment 66. What that means is our students will have access to a quality education.

If Amendment 66 passes, Steamboat Springs School District will receive about $1,507,500 more in funding and South Routt School District will receive an additional $330,300. Additionally, special education funding for Northwest Board of Cooperative Educational Services would increase by about $386,000 every year, allowing these districts to free up local dollars that have been spent on this federal requirement so that the additional money can benefit all students.

Putting our kids on the path to success is not a course of action that should be limited by where they happen to live.

Lastly, voters need to know the truth about what they’ll pay and where the money will go. Amendment 66 provides every Coloradan the ability to know where their dollars are going.

Under the two-step income-tax rate increases called for in Amendment 66, the average Colorado taxpayer would pay an additional $133 per year, or about $2.50 per week. And new money raised under Amendment 66 is constitutionally required to go to classroom and programmatic improvements and is locked in the State Education Achievement Fund so it can’t be used for other purposes.

Opponents of the measure aren’t focused on what it will do for students and for our economy. Instead, they are pushing out misleading information and arguments. Their points are easily refuted. See for yourself at www.voteyeson66.com.

Ultimately, Colorado voters are being asked to answer a fundamental question with Amendment 66: What kind of state do we want to leave for the next generation?

My answer is that we must be committed to creating and leaving them a better Colorado.

Join me in demonstrating that commitment by voting “yes” on Amendment 66.

Sue Birch is executive director of the Department of Health Care Policy and Finance.

Comments

Stan Zuber 6 months ago

How will more money "put effective teachers in the classroom"? How will more money " ensure all students have highly effective teachers"? I thought that would be a highly effective administrators job, and something that should have been going on for years. It has been mentioned that it will increase accountability. How will more money do that? You don't buy accountability. Read the Commentary by Bill Keller "An Industry of Mediocrity" in the Oct 24, Pilot. I do not mind supporting education and believe that the majority of teachers are effective. Throwing more money at some of the problems is not going to fix it.

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PJ Howe 6 months ago

I went to High School in the Denver area in the 80's. We had one principal and one vice principal. My niece graduated from the same school 2 years ago. With 40 more kids in her class, they had an Executive Director, one principal and 7 (SEVEN) vice principals, all of whom I'm sure make well into 6 figures, not including benefits. I say we all vote for 66!!! By golly, we need to have more administrators to take care of all that extra money coming in. Yes on 66! Let's feed the bureaucracy until we have an 'effective' administrator for every 5 students!

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Mark Ruckman 6 months ago

Sue, can you explain how you can justify Routt County citizens paying over $6M a year in taxes under 66 and only receive back $2M of our tax $'s?

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George Hresko 6 months ago

Sue-I've read the link. Everywhere the 'explanation' says 'can' I would prefer that it say 'will'. For example, instead of can add 1000 teachers, will add. There appears to be little assurance what actually will happen if 66 becomes law, other than that our taxes will increase, and apparently for Steamboat Springs School District, as pointed out above, the net increase is roughly $5 million annually! I would appreciate it if you would tell us, here in Routt County, how much more than the $133 that you are quoting the average family will be paying, that we will be passing over. It appears to me that it is as much as $1,000 per family here.

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Kevin Nerney 6 months ago

I've go an idea. Lets vote yes on "66" and pay more taxes. Lets vote to build a new police station so we can pay more taxes to pay for it. Lets vote to build more bike trails so we can pay more taxes. Lets sign up for Obozocare so we can pay more taxes (er premiums) . Lets start a new program that collects my paycheck and sends me what if anything is leftover.

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Harvey Lyon 6 months ago

You know, I just got thru running the numbers. Pretty much the same Counties/School Districts that have been declared indigent and need rescue in their educational system by the Democratic Party in Amendment 66 are the same Counties and School Districts that were selected by the same Democratic Party to have their electricity rates raised by a minimum of 2% per year over the normal increase in electric rates to support renewable energy (Sb 252).

Go figure, $500 more per year (minimum) for power with no improvements in distribution or reliability versus $400 more per student. Folks in those Counties must have seperate checking accounts and different salaries......one for power and one for education.

And the fact that electric money flows to a Democratic District that makes wind turbines is not mentioned. And the fact that additional taxes for schools has to pass thru Denver with sticky fingersand no legal controls is not mentioned.

Does anybody really truly believe in this crap?

I guess Diane Mitsch Bush does but I do have to wonder on her motivations.

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Charles Rollman 6 months ago

Here are the stats on Amendment 66 as I see them:

The Colorado income tax receipts for 2012 were about $5B. Amendment 66 increases them by $1B. This is a 20% increase in the state income tax.

There are 2,000,000 households in Colorado according to the US Census. Divide this number into $1B and you get an average of $500 tax increase per household. There will be a lot of people who pay well over the commonly quoted $133 household number.

The income tax rate for those earning under 75K will increase by 0.37% from 4.63% to 5.00%. This is an increase of 0.37/4.63 or 8%. If you paid a dollar last year, this year you'll pay $1.08.

The incremental income tax rate for those earning over 75K (which probably includes a lot of two income households) goes from 4.63% to 5.9%. This is a gargantuan increase of 1.27/5.9 = 27%. If you paid a dollar last year, you'll now pay $1.27.

This huge tax increase benefits only one sector of government: education. There are no funds going to infrastructure and no funds going to storm water mitigation.

Amendment 66 is too big, too imbalanced, and too poorly constrained. My wife and I voted NO!

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Scott Wedel 6 months ago

I think the SB schools which are committed to high levels of academic performance would put the money to the most effective use they are currently unable to fund.

The trouble is that it is pretty clear that poor schools are not the result of a lack of money or that more money fixes poor schools.

Why does Hayden consistently have such poor high school math proficiency scores? No one has claimed that they know the problem, but they lack the money to address it. A few years ago, some of their teachers went to the school board and said they believed the relative lack of instructional days is a big problem. Not only are their high school students receiving a chunk fewer days of instruction than SB, their lesson plans require more instructional days than in their school schedule. But for an assortment of local political reasons, the school board left things as is.

More money will not fix troubled school districts like Hayden. There is nothing in this tax increase that reforms any failing school.

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mark hartless 6 months ago

Harvey,

Yes, there are many people who DO "truly believe in this crap".

Kevin,

The "program" you facitiously proposed is already in place. Take the time to add up all you pay in taxes for the next month; look at every reciept from the hardware store, McDonalds, Wal Mart, etc. Not to mention the $.40/gallon on your gasoline, the taxes and fees in your electric bill, phone bill, water and sewer bill... Then add the fees you pay for a vehicle registration, property taxes on your home, etc. Then, after all that you can take out your income tax; both state and federal.

The good news is, if you "win lifes lottery" or are one of those "more fortunate" people (what an insult to hard work and savings) and manage to save and hide a wee portion of it from the plunderers then they are willing to let your kids keep about HALF of what you have already paid taxes on when you die.

So, you see that system you propose is already well in place.

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mark hartless 6 months ago

And Charles hits on a often missed point. Whenever politician/plunderers want to increase your taxes from 4% to 5% they refer to it as a ONE percent increase when it is, in fact more like 20%.

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