In reference to the Wall Street Journal, “Rocky Mountain High Taxes,” Oct. 23. Wake Up Coloradans! SDN has published two opinion pieces recently on Amendment 66, “The Colorado Tax Increase for Education,” noting that the amendment would raise Colorado income taxes by nearly $1B every year, with options to increase such taxes in the future. Liberals and unions claim that this amendment will reform education for K-12 and will provide “schooling” for 4- to 5-year-olds. If the bill passes, Colorado will join Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Oregon and California as the most highly taxed states in the country.
Now WSJ shows the amendment for what it really is: a way to get around Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) which requires all tax increases to be approved by voters. The article makes the following points about the amendment’s real effects:
- Repeals restraints on tax increases and raises income taxes by up to 26.6 percent with provisions to increase taxes even more in future years without further voting;
- Earmarks tax revenues for education, which will increase pressures for additional taxes for transportation, Medicaid, and other critical priorities;
- Will allow other required education tax revenues to be spent to delay reforms on the state’s badly underfunded public teacher pension plan;
- Contains no reforms for education — no teacher accountability, no increase in school choice, no pension reforms (the unions hate these things);
- Funnels more funds to Denver schools by taking cash from the rest of the state, including Summit County schools. WSJ notes that the University of Colorado Business School found close to zero relationship between per-pupil spending and test scores or graduation rates. CU noted that one school district received a 36 percent fund increase per pupil and its test scores dropped 8.3 percent.
Curtis W. Caughey