Opinion | Julie McCluskie: Invest in education with no new taxes | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Julie McCluskie: Invest in education with no new taxes

Rep. Julie McCluskie
Colorado House District 61

A tidbit of trivia recently caught my eye. The first text message ever sent was by Neil Papworth, and it said, “Merry Christmas.” It was typed from a personal computer because phones couldn’t text. The year was 1992. The same year Coloradans passed the most restrictive state spending limits in the country.

The world is a different place than it was nearly three decades ago when that first text was sent. Just as technological advances have reshaped our world and how we experience it, there are countless examples of how smart public investments have transformed communities and expanded opportunity across the country.

But in Colorado, even with a booming economy, we’re unable to fulfill the basic functions of government: to fund safe, reliable transportation systems and ensure that every child receives an excellent public education.

Proposition CC is Colorado’s chance to get back on track. This common-sense measure resolves one part of the state’s antiquated budget system and helps move us forward. Proposition CC asks voters a straightforward, simple question: Can the state invest the money it already collects, from things like corporate taxes and tourism revenue, to fund transportation and education? The best part? We can do it with no new taxes.

Asking Coloradans if revenue the state already collects can be invested in issues we care about most — education and transportation — is an appropriate question and an elegant use of a tax law that has far out served its purpose.

A good portion of my professional experience has been spent in public education, and I am a fierce advocate for adequate and equitable funding in public schools, colleges and universities. Never before in the history of our great state have the stakes been higher or the pressure greater to develop, train and educate a workforce ready for the demands of the vast array of jobs we couldn’t have imagined just 10, let alone 27 years ago. Our public schools struggle to recruit and keep highly qualified educators, maintain small class sizes and provide a world-class education with outdated curriculum, technology and facilities. We can’t use yesterday’s tools for tomorrow’s careers.

With one of the most robust economies in the nation, it is shocking that Colorado ranks as one of the bottom three states in K-12 public education funding, behind some of the poorest places in the country like Alabama and Louisiana, and one of the worst states in higher education funding. Twenty years ago, Coloradans paid one-third of their in-state tuition, and the state covered the rest. Today, kids pay two-thirds, and the state barely covers the rest. Passing Proposition CC allows us to flip the script and better ensure all students receive an equal shot to realize their potential.

In addition to Proposition CC, I strongly support Summit School District’s Ballot Measure 4A which asks voters whether the district can retain funding no longer required for full-day kindergarten and repurpose these resources for educator salaries and behavioral-mental health needs. Like Proposition CC, no new taxes with 4A.

Proposition CC will not solve our funding crisis, but it will allow us to move into the 21st century. We can invest in our priorities with no new taxes. We can help modernize Colorado’s antiquated, constricted and flawed tax system. Together, we can invest the money we already have in the long-term health of our state and our children. Vote yes on Proposition CC.

Julie McCluskie is a representative for Colorado House District 61, which includes Summit County.

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