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Yesterday, Senator Rollie Heath announced that he was going forward with Initiative #25. Heath said it was going to be a 5-year timeout to education cuts.
Denver’s finest Eli Stokols reports:
“For too long we have been near the bottom in funding our schools, and the budget cuts we’ve made the last two years have made a bad situation worse,” Heath said. “We can’t tolerate that anymore.
“Doing nothing is just not an option.”
It raises about $530 million annually for education for 5 years by raising the state sales and income tax back up to 1999 levels before the legislature cut them. That is, sales tax goes from 2.9% to 3.0% and state income tax goes from 4.63% to 5.0%. That will equate an average of about $550 per student for all K-12 and higher ed students.
Heath’s initiative has been flying under the radar now; people seemed to have forgotten about it. He says he has the support of several groups, like Great Ed, ARC of Colorado, Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, and local teachers’ unions, among others.
He certainly has a long road to collect the 86,000 necessary signatures, especially if it actually is a grassroots campaign like he claims. I was at an event last week and somebody asked me to sign the petition, so he has at least started some organization.
Also, apparently, Treasurer Walker Stalpeton thoughts were important, as he was quoted as well. He did have this gem of a quote:
Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton said the fact that Heath is going to the ballot proves he has no support at the Legislature, which concluded the 2011 session last week.
“I think he chose to have it on the Monday after the legislative session ended because he knows there’s no support for this initiative in the state,” Stapleton said.
What? First off, TABOR demands that any sort of tax increase must go to the ballot, and cannot be passed just by the legislature. Secondly, does that mean that anything that can’t get through the legislature has “no support in the state?” This logic must mean that the Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter) have terribly unpopular platforms! There is no support for civil unions, pay day lenders, pro-immigration reform, anti-immigration reform, etc etc you get the point.
Obviously, any sort of legislation to increase state revenue wasn’t going anywhere in the Republican controlled House. If Heath really wanted to raise money to support education, which he seemingly does, he had to go the initiative route.