In November you will vote on Amendment 73. Strong public schools are the backbone of healthy communities. As citizens, one of our most important duties is to provide our children with a quality education and a path to meaningful lives.
Where we spend our money states our values. Colorado has one of the strongest economies in the country, yet each year we spend roughly $2,800 less than the national average per K-12 student. The majority of our school districts have teacher shortages because Colorado ranks 49th in the nation on paying teachers a competitive wage.
We have the economy to support the schools we want and the schools our children deserve regardless of their zip code. Amendment 73 is the key to unlock the door between our prosperity and our schools. It proposes changes to the way we pay income and property tax to raise $1.6 billion per year to address local educational needs throughout the state. Ninety-two percent of state income tax filers have a taxable income of $150,000 or less. Under Amendment 73 they will pay no additional income tax. The 8 percent of tax filers earning $150,000 or more in taxable income will pay taxes according to a graduated income tax rate. C Corporations would see a 1.37-percent increase in their tax rate. LLCs, Sole Proprietors and S corps, would see no change. To see how A73 would impact you, please go to www.cosfp.org/impactcalculator/ <http://www.cosf.org/impactcalculator/>.
The residential property tax rate, which is currently at 7.2 percent, would drop to 7.0 percent and be frozen there. This new rate is only for taxes that fund public schools. Property taxes that fund local government services would not be frozen at this rate. The commercial property tax rate, currently at 29 percent would be dropped and frozen at 24 percent, again only for those taxes that go to fund our schools. Business owners, ranchers and farmers have long carried a disproportionate burden of funding public schools. Amendment 73 addresses this and provides relief to local non-residential property tax payers.
Even with these changes Colorado remains a low-tax state with the 10th-lowest income tax rate nationally for those making up to $200,000. It has the ninth-lowest corporate tax rate among the 44 states with such taxes, and the third-lowest property tax rate in the nation.
Amendment 73 would add to the stream of revenue flowing to each district by increasing the base funding for all students, providing funding for full-day kindergarten, increasing revenue to early childhood education, expanding the definition of “at-risk” students, and significantly increasing the funds for Special Education, English Language Learners, and Gifted and Talented students.
Decisions as to how to spend the new revenue from Amendment 73 would be made by your local school district. Here in Salida, our public schools would see an additional $2 million in revenue each year. Your local school board’s priorities for spending these additional funds are: providing more educational and support programs for our students, continuing to increase teacher and staff pay, and continuing to maintain our current facilities while helping the district accommodate our growing enrollment.
There are many reasons to vote Yes on Amendment 73. Businesses statewide and here in Chaffee County are crying out for skilled, qualified employees that are well-educated. A survey of our community’s educational values completed in the spring of 2018 again reinforced that small classroom sizes and paying our teachers and staff a livable wage are high priorities. Our school’s enrollment has been growing and will continue to grow into the foreseeable future by 25-30 students per year. Growing enrollment translates into growing costs. The passage of Amendment 73 offers us the revenue to graduate students well-prepared for college or immediate employment. It will help us protect our values and maintain small classroom sizes while attracting and retaining the best staff available. Please vote Yes on Amendment 73.
By Jeannie Peters, Salida Yes on Amendment 73