Colorado state Sen. Jean White opposes Prop 103 |

Colorado state Sen. Jean White opposes Prop 103

— Colorado state Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden, acknowledged Tuesday that she likely won't vote for Proposition 103, a proposed increase of the state's sales and income taxes that would raise an estimated $2.9 billion for public schools in Colorado.

"It's a short fix, and I do have some concerns about it," White said, adding that the tax measure does not specify how funds would be distributed to schools in Colorado. "I just think people are not inclined to vote for a tax increase at this time with the economy the way it is."

White and other Republican lawmakers in Colorado, including Rep. Randy Baumgardner, last week sent a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper and other Democratic leaders in the state asking them to oppose the measure.

The letter said "the state should not endorse any policy that will bear back a jobs recovery on any level or in any number."

White currently is touring all of the schools she represents as the leader of Senate District 8, and she said she hopes to see firsthand how budget cuts at the state level have affected classrooms in Colorado. She spent part of Tuesday at schools in the South Routt School District.

"Every school I've been to is so unique," White said after she finished visiting with teachers and students at South Routt Elementary School in Yampa. Superintendent Scott Mader and Principal Raylene Olinger showed off a new nutrition program at the district as well as their students' increased use of technology. The district installed Smart Boards in several classrooms this year.

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White, who is entering her second legislative session in the Senate, said one of the things she already has learned from her ongoing tour of schools in Routt and Moffat counties is that schools are being more resourceful in the wake of budget cuts and are seeking out and effectively using grant funding to improve their financial situations.

"That's the local control I like to see," she said.

She said that in the place of a statewide tax increase such as Proposition 103, she would like to see school districts seek more funding in the form of mill levy overrides and bond issues.

"I'm all for funding education," she said. "But it's not fair for school districts to be at the whim of the Legislature year after year after year. If (school districts) knew they had additional funding from a sales tax increase or a bond issue, they would have more control."

Superintendent Scott Mader said he appreciated White's visit, and said he hopes the senator was able to see the value of state funding the district receives that is used to fund teachers' aides.

"I think she saw what a huge detriment it would be if we were forced to cut some of those teachers' aide positions," he said.

The South Routt School District last month unanimously supported Proposition 103.

White said she likely will continue her tour of schools this week with a stop in Steamboat Springs.

"When various issues that affect our schools come before me for my vote, I will have a clear vision of the schools, of the faces, of the students and the teachers," she said, explaining why she was touring all of the schools in her district. "I will have made contact with hundreds of people I can contact if I have any questions."

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

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