Opinion: ‘Yes’ on EE to support early childhood education
Lucinda Burns, Early Childhood Options executive director
Our small but mighty mountain community has been making smart investments in our youngest kids and families for nearly 15 years. These investments have made our community more accessible for working families and have ensured all children get a strong start in school. Proposition EE builds on Summit County’s success and gives the rest of Colorado the chance to benefit from universal preschool, which is why we’re proud to support EE.
This measure will close a tax loophole on dangerous and addictive vaping products and increase our state’s tobacco tax. The revenue will be dedicated to a new program that will ensure every 4-year-old in Colorado has the chance to attend preschool in the year before kindergarten — not just those whose families can afford it.
We know from the success of our local programs that expanding access to quality early education is critically important to young learners and family budgets. We’re excited that Proposition EE can expand this opportunity statewide, including to communities that could never afford to fund a program locally. For places like ours that have invested locally in early education, this new state investment will leverage and build upon our strong local programs, allowing us to serve even more families in Summit County.
But the benefits of Proposition EE are greater than just preschool. It will help to create a healthier Colorado, too.
Research shows that for every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes, we see a 3% to 5% decline in consumption overall and a 7% decline among price-sensitive youths. Increasing the tax alone is an important step to reducing consumption, but EE also will dedicate new funding to public health programs proven to help smokers and vapers quit and educating youths to prevent them from ever starting. Driving down the use of these dangerous and deadly products is a win for our community’s health.
Proposition EE is a progressive measure that will help to create a healthier, brighter future for all Colorado. Reducing consumption of dangerous tobacco and nicotine products has a very clear benefit to the health and safety of communities that have been targeted by the tobacco industry for decades — specifically youths and low-income people. Further, by investing the revenue generated by the tax into quality preschool, we have the chance to ensure all kids start school prepared to succeed, a strategy proven to help close achievement gaps and promote equity in education.
The revenue is locked in state law and will be audited annually, so voters can have peace of mind that the money will be spent as promised.
At a time of significant social unrest and political divisiveness, it is refreshing to see something on the ballot that is bipartisan, positive and constructive. Perhaps that is why Proposition EE has earned the support of Republicans and Democrats at the state and local levels, health and education leaders, rural and urban organizations, business and labor leaders and everyday voters.
Please join us in voting “yes” on EE.
Thomas Davidson is a term-limited Summit County commissioner. Lucinda Burns is the executive director of Early Childhood Options, a local nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality, affordability and availability of early childhood programs.
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