What is the current status of this effort?
Proponents have collected and submitted to the Secretary of State signatures of 180,000 registered voters from across Colorado in order to qualify this measure for the November 2018 ballot. The Secretary of State’s office will announce by August 11 whether Amendment 73 (this is the anticipated amendment number for initiative number #93 known as the Great Schools, Thriving Communities campaign) will be on the November ballot.
What is the citizen’s ballot initiative known as Great Schools, Thriving Communities?
The initiative number is #93 and the campaign is called Great Schools, Thriving Communities.
With the basic belief that our public schools are the pillars of thriving communities throughout Colorado, the goal was to develop a tax policy that would support this common premise. To keep schools and communities thriving, every student needs access to the effective opportunities and supports necessary for success in college, career and life, such as inspiring teachers, rigorous and broad curriculum, individual attention, quality career and technical options, and appropriate mental and physical health resources.
Great Schools, Thriving Communities (GSTC) will raise $1.6 billion in additional, sustainable revenue for our schools, bringing them closer to the national average in school funding. The initiative will distribute resources to all school districts throughout Colorado. In addition, it will ensure that decisions about how to spend those new dollars are made at the local level.
How is revenue raised?
This initiative funds expanded educational opportunities through tax increments on federal taxable income (income after exemptions and deductions) earned above $150,000 and on C corporations, ensuring that decisions about how to use those new funds are made at the local level by locally elected school boards, in collaboration with their communities. It also provides sustainable funding by lowering and freezing property tax rates, which are already third lowest in the nation. It’s worth noting that according to the Fiscal Impact Statement created by the Colorado Legislative Council Staff, 92% of taxpayers will see no impact on their individual income taxes.
Why does the CASB Board support the initiative?
Based on widespread concern in the education community that people are accepting Colorado’s current school funding as the new normal, a broad and diverse group of organizations, including CASB, began meeting in July 2016 to discuss the need for adequate and equitable funding for all Colorado public schools. Organizations included the traditional education community as well as other organizations that deeply value public education. This coalition of organizations shares a common vision for education in Colorado: that every student, regardless of where and how they learn, is prepared to thrive and lead his or her best life.
Two goals were used when considering the development of this tax policy: raise revenue and fix the structural problems in the property tax system. Core values included: raising revenue for education, distributing that revenue adequately and equitably, and ensuring local benefit and local control. In total, 22 initiatives were filed through the Review and Comment process, with 19 initiatives receiving titles. After much discussion among the coalition partners, a decision was made to move forward with initiative #93. CASB was part of the deliberative process and the CASB Board supports this tax policy and the Great Schools, Thriving Communities ballot initiative.
How can you learn more about it?
The Great Schools, Thriving Communities website provides details about the initiative, including a one-page overview, presentation and various other resources.
An opposition committee, Don't Turn Colorado into California, with the stated purpose: to support policies designed to encourage jobs and overall economic improvement and to oppose policies like initiative 93 that stagnate economic growth and hurt job creation.
Reminder of Colorado Fair Campaign Practices Act
Colorado's Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA) prohibits the use of public resources to support or oppose a ballot issue. School district employees are not allowed to use any regular work hours, facilities, district communication equipment, materials or supplies to promote or defeat a ballot issue. Employees are allowed to use their personal time to urge electors to vote for or against an election issue, or to make contributions of their own money. This overview of the FCPA’s permissible and impermissible activities for school board members and district employees provides guidance.
If you want to get involved with the campaign, you should use a non-school district email address. If you want updates regarding the campaign, sign up directly on the Great Schools, Thriving Communities website.
Given the high profile of a statewide school funding measure, board members and district employees may receive questions from your community. Please contact CASB at 303.832.1000 if you would like assistance in responding to these inquiries.