August 28, 2018
Editor’s note: This letter has been edited to reflect changes requested by its writer.
Most everybody knows that our local school district and the county are struggling financially, but I have three reasons why Amendment 73 is a very poor idea. Amendment 73 is a $1.6 billion dollar tax increase, designated for government K-12 schools, that would institute five income tax brackets. In Colorado people currently pay 4.63 percent, regardless of income. Under Amendment 73, the top bracket would go up to 8.25 percent.
Following are my reasons for opposing the amendment.
We still have Amendment 23, passed in 2000, that ties education spending to the rate of inflation. Amendment 73 hamstrings the state's ability to adapt to changing economic conditions, such as inflation and future recessions. They assumed we wouldn’t go back to the 14 percent inflation rate of 1980 and wouldn’t experience economic downturns, like the Great Recession of 2008 or the Great Depression of the 1930s. The state legislature must have flexibility to fund and balance all functions, like roads, education, Medicaid, parks, etc. The Colorado Constitution now has a hodgepodge of 150 amendments. It's a convoluted mess. The U.S. Constitution only has 27 amendments and for good reason. It's for dealing with fundamental things like the Bill of Rights. But with 150 amendments, our state constitution is now dealing with issues that can and do change. Amendment 73 would make it 151.
We currently spend money chasing results (academic achievement). That methodology hasn't worked yet. In our society, success and achievement are normally rewarded with money or additional resources. That's because it works. The current educational system has it backwards. The Colorado Association of School Boards, Colorado Association of School Executives, and Colorado Education Association focus on more money to the near exclusion of academic achievement and raising the bar. If some program isn't working well, government is good at throwing more money at it. The answer is always more money for them.
Karl Marx said, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."
A tax system that uses tax brackets is a form of Marxism and class warfare pitting the proletariat "have nots" against the bourgeois "haves.” Colorado already has the correct form of income tax. Everybody has the same skin in the game. The fairest income tax is a flat tax, where everyone pays the same percentage.
The state legislature should step up and increase funding to Moffat County School District, so that we are no longer disadvantaged compared to the districts that get more per-pupil funding. The current funding formula doesn't treat Moffat County well. The state legislature needs to "man up" and not cater to special interests. What if there was no formula, and every district got the same amount of per pupil funding?
This letter doesn't begin to address all of the relevant issues or structural problems facing education, but space is limited, and those are topics for another day.
Former Moffat County School Board member