Great Schools, Thriving Communities press release, Aug. 9:
SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE APPROVES HISTORIC STATEWIDE EDUCATION INITIATIVE FOR 2018 BALLOT
A73 connects Great Schools to Thriving Communities
Denver, CO – Today, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office approved signatures from every senate district across the state to officially place Amendment 73 on the 2018 ballot. This historic initiative is designed to help the state’s underfunded schools and ensure every community across Colorado benefits from the state’s booming economy. The measure empowers local school districts, enabling them to determine the highest priorities for much needed revenue.
“Amendment 73 is set up so local school districts decide where resources are most needed,” said Buffalo School District Superintendent Rob Sanders. “It isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It recognizes the values and priorities of unique communities across the state.”
Although Colorado has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, the state spends $2,000 less per student on average, compared with the rest of the country. Teacher pay is rated well below the national average, and schools struggle to recruit and retain qualified teachers. Many districts are forced to start off the school year with unfilled positions.
“This will help us address critical needs and offer educational opportunities to all our students,” Sanders added. “We can address the growing teacher shortage crisis, fund programs for students with special needs, provide career and technical training to make high school graduates career-ready, and keep students safe.”
Amendment 73 would raise $1.6 billion a year in additional, sustainable revenue for Colorado’s public schools, bringing them closer to the national average in school funding. Revenue will be deposited in the Quality Public Education Fund, a new, dedicated state education fund that will allocate revenue equitably to every Colorado school district.
“This initiative helps every community throughout Colorado, no matter the size — no one is left behind,” said Martha Olson, one of the proponents of the initiative.
“In fact, this is a rural economic development plan unlike any other Colorado has experienced,” said Olson. “By combining tax relief for farmers, ranchers, and small business property owners with investment in local communities and in a successful statewide public education system, our rural communities — those communities hardest hit over the past decade — will see a tremendous benefit from this initiative.”
The measure freezes the residential assessment rate, already third lowest in the nation, and reduces the nonresidential assessment rate, providing tax relief for those Coloradans who have shouldered a large burden of the local share of school funding – families, businesses, farmers and ranchers – and creates a sustainable source for public school funding. One hundred percent of Colorado property owners would receive a decrease in their property tax assessment from their current rate as a result of Amendment 73. Ninety-two percent of taxpayers will see no increase in personal income tax, while the top eight percent of Colorado tax filers, those with a taxable income above $150,000, will pay a graduated income tax. A73 will also increase the tax on C corporations by 1.37 percent, moving Colorado from 3rd to 9th lowest rate of the 44 states that impose a corporate tax.
“Our students deserve educators who can afford to work and live in the communities they serve. Losing quality teachers means students miss out on great instruction,” said Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino. “With Amendment 73, we have a once in a generation opportunity to invest in communities across Colorado.”
Amendment 73 is the first ballot measure in the state’s history to qualify for the ballot by obtaining signatures from every senate district, doing so through primarily volunteer signature gathering.
“It's really amazing to see so many Coloradans from across our state come together to support our kids,” said Poudre School District parent and initiative proponent, DJ Anderson. “Amendment 73 will help ensure our children are being taught by high-quality teachers who are well-supported and prepared for today’s classroom, that our kids are safe, engaged and challenged in their classrooms, and that they have all the resources they need to succeed. There is no better investment than our children.”
Statement from CEA President Amie Baca-Oehlert on Amendment 73 making the ballot
“Our membership, educators all across Colorado, along with many other people, worked hard to get valid signatures for this amendment to make the ballot. Now that it’s officially on, it is up to ALL of us to get Amendment 73 passed by voters to ensure students and educators across Colorado have access to a high-quality public education no matter where they live. With one of the fastest growing economies in the country, our students deserve a well-funded public education system. Thank you to all who helped make this step possible,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, President of the Colorado Education Association.