Colorado voters rejected a ballot initiative Tuesday that would have funded an increase in K-12 education spending through tax hikes for high-income state residents and corporations.
Final vote counts show that the amendment received the support of 44.5 percent of the 1,884,088 Coloradans who voted on the measure, compared with 42.5 percent out of 11,355 in Montezuma county. The amendment needed approval from 55 percent of voters to pass.
The amendment would have established tax brackets for people earning over $150,000 in annual income, increasing their tax rates without changing the income tax rates for lower income individuals.
The amendment also would have decreased property taxes levied by school districts without affecting property tax rates from other local governments.
The measure would have increased statewide base per-pupil spending by 11 percent to $7,300. It will also would have funded full-day kindergarten care statewide, and English language proficiency programs, gifted and talented programs and preschool programs would also have seen increases in funding.
Local reactionsU.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, who won re-election Tuesday, said he was concerned that area school districts were receiving most of their funding from external sources.
However, he said folks in the 3rd District were concerned about the tax increases that would have come with Amendment 73.
“It could have been structured better,” Tipton told The Journal Tuesday night regarding Amendment 73 after election results showed the ballot measure had failed.
Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1 Superintendent Lori Haukeness said that the failure of the ballot measure was “disappointing.” The Montezuma-Cortez district was estimated to receive about $4.3 million per year in additional funds had the amendment passed.
Haukeness said she respects the will of the voters, but even without the funding that Amendment 73 would have provided, the district still needs to increase teacher salaries, address school safety needs and provide better educational technology to properly serve students.
“We remain committed to our goals of improving student growth and achievement in reading and math, improving school accreditation for all schools, and providing students with engaging high school courses that successfully prepare them for college and careers,” Haukeness said in a statement to The Journal. “Now is the time for the district to come together, think outside of the box and get creative as we move forward and to find ways to meet these goals with limited resources.”
“Now is our chance, Colorado, to hold the state accountable for years of shortfalls to our rural struggling districts,” Suckla wrote in her letter from Oct. 30.
Mancos school board mixed on 73During a board meeting on Oct. 8, Blake Mitchell, president of the Mancos district RE-6 school board, expressed displeasure with Amendment 73 as the board considered whether to cast a vote on supporting or opposing it.
Mitchell said the bill would disproportionately impact local business owners in a negative manner.
“If they have a good, strong income, they’re going to get more of it taken away, and everybody else gets to reap the benefits of it, and that’s just socialism starting up,” Mitchell told the board.
He received pushback from board treasurer Edward Whritner, who defended the amendment and said that it was “nothing but fairness.”
“It’s equity, too,” Whritner said in response to Mitchell’s comment.
The Mancos school board did not cast a vote on whether to express support or opposition to the amendment.
Dolores board supported measureAt a regular meeting on Oct. 11, the Dolores School Board passed a resolution in support of Amendment 73. Members listed some of the items that the additional district funding would support, including bolstered school safety, professional development for teachers and more competitive salaries.
Mancos School District Superintendent Phil Kasper asked in a letter to the editor Oct. 16 that readers vote yes on Amendment 73, reiterating the three spending priorities provided by the school board the previous week.
“We have accomplished much within our current funding,” Kasper wrote in the letter. “We can do even more for our boys and girls if Amendment 73 passes!”
This story was edited to update vote firstname.lastname@example.org