October 18th, 2018
For many years in this space, we’ve urged residents in Greeley and Evans to invest in their children and their schools.
That’s a message we firmly believe in, and we’re sure we will push voters to do just that again in the future.
That said, we simply can’t support the large, cumbersome and potentially flawed proposal on the ballot this year that’s designed to give schools across the state a much-needed boost in funding.
We don’t doubt an influx of money would do all of our schools — and especially those in Greeley and Evans — well. As a state, our schools are underfunded by comparison to schools across the country. In Greeley-Evans School District 6, massive needs remain, even after voters this past year approved a first-ever mill levy override to pump more local dollars into the district. No one should believe these challenges will go away by themselves. And we must solve them.
Still, Amendment 73 — which calls for a massive statewide tax hike to boost funding for K-12 education in Colorado — is simply too big, too complex and full of too many uncertainties to garner our support.
In short, Amendment 73 would move Colorado from a flat tax to tiered rates, raise the corporate tax rate and the income tax rate for individuals earning more than $150,000. The corporate tax rate would jump to 6 percent. Residents earning less than $150,000 would stay taxed at the current rate of 4.63 percent. Residents earning more would see tax rates between 5 and 8.25 percent. Property taxes levied by school districts will be decreased from 7.2 percent to 7 percent for residential properties and from 29 percent to 24 percent for nonresidential property.
That’s a heck of a lot for one amendment to do. It’s hard for us to know for sure all of this will work out as intended by the drafters of the amendment.
One indication of just how complex this proposal is comes from an eight-page legal opinion put out by supporters of Amendment 73 to refute claims the measure would inadvertently reduce the property tax revenue available to local government entities that aren’t school districts, such as Colorado counties and fire districts.
We’re not lawyers so we won’t weigh in specifically on this controversy. And it may be much ado about nothing. We will say, however, it doesn’t put us at ease to know that lawyers already are entering the fray to weigh in on complex questions within the amendment.
More tangibly, we have concerns about the effect of moving Colorado off a flat tax for individuals, and we worry about the unintended consequences of the tax hike in the corporate rate.
Indeed, in this state, we have a checkered history of tinkering with our constitution with the best of intentions only to find out things didn’t work the way we would have liked.
We’re not happy say it, but we don’t think Amendment 73 is the right solution to our state’s education-funding problem.
— The Tribune Editorial Board
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