Amendment 66 is a Costly Disappointment

Oct 8, 2013 | Economy, Government & Policy

Ballots will be in the mail soon for the November elections. In the near future you’ll receive a special election electronic newsletter from the Chamber with our positions with background information.

In the meantime, I want to get a head start by briefing you on Amendment 66 and letting you know that the Chamber opposes it.

As its name indicates, this is an amendment. In this case, it’s an amendment to the state constitution. Amendment 66:

  • raises the state individual income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5.0 percent on the first $75,000 of taxable income, and to 5.9 percent on any taxable income over $75,000 (a 27.4 percent increase);
  • deposits the additional tax revenue from the tax rate change into the newly created State Educational Achievement fund;
  • implements legislation passed by the state legislature creating a new formula for allocating state and local funding to school districts;
  • repeals the constitutional requirement that base per pupil funding for public education increase by at least the rate of inflation annually; 
  • and requires that at least 43 percent of state income, sales, and excise tax revenue, collected at existing tax rates, be set aside annually to pay for public education.

Overall, state funding for public education in Colorado would increase by 20 percent.

The Chamber strongly supports effective, accountable and properly funded public education. Unfortunately, Amendment 66 doesn’t accomplish the first two things – effective and accountable – and over-compensates on the funding. In fact, this measure will generate $1 billion annually forever for public education, but proponents don’t commit to better educational achievement by students.

The nexus between educational achievement and individual, community, state and national prosperity is undeniable. Anecdotally we see this cause and effect linkage and actual research backs it up.  In short, as a society, if we want to thrive economically, we must have strong public education systems.

Businesspeople understand this; the business community wants and needs strong and effective schools. Those students are our children, and someday they will be our colleagues at work. So in addition to understanding how important education is for a prosperous society and our businesses, it’s important for the success of our children. We also know that the values we hold dear regarding individual opportunity, innovation, free enterprise, personal responsibility, and community are best preserved by an informed and educated populace.

This need and expectation of the business community for effective education heightens our disappointment with Amendment 66. After careful review and thoughtful consideration, the Fort Collins Area Chamber cannot support it.

Our opposition arises from issues concerning the size and perpetuity of the tax increase, our belief that more money will not necessarily result in increased educational attainment by Colorado students, how this tax increase would block resources to meet other state priorities, constitutional inflexibility, the inequity of a two-tiered tax increase and the subsequent drag on the economy. Watch for the special election enewsletter. It will contain more information on each of these items.

Supporters of this tax increase have a lot of money to spend, millions in fact, which they will do over the next month. They will tell us how small the tax is and hint at how great it will be for kids. In the end, it comes down to this: If you genuinely believe this huge tax increase will translate into better educated students support this; if not, don’t.

After studying the issue, we remain pro-education but were not convinced this will help, so we say “NO on Amendment 66.”