DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper endorsed an income tax hike for schools Wednesday, ending weeks of speculation.
The governor had already committed to supporting a ballot initiative this fall to fund reforms to the school finance system that he signed into law in May.
But he has been silent since education advocates settled on Initiative 22, which raises income taxes and creates a two-bracket income tax system. It was one of nearly two dozen options that the campaign had filed as possible ballot initiatives.
Both supporters and opponents had been prodding the governor to clarify where he stands on Initiative 22.
Hickenlooper told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he thinks a majority of voters will support the initiative once they learn about it.
“I’m not sure it is my exact preference. You know, the bottom line is you’ve got to have something on there that’s winnable,” he said. “In that sense, in all that array of ballot language that could win, I think this is the best.”
Under Initiative 22, income of $75,000 or less would be taxed at 5 percent, and income more than $75,000 would be taxed at 5.9 percent. Currently, Coloradans pay a flat 4.63 percent income tax.
Supporters will have to collect at least 86,105 valid signatures from Colorado voters by Aug. 5 to put Initiative 22 on the ballot for this November’s election. Local supporters are working to collect at least 700 in Southwest Colorado.