The quality and sustainability of education as a public service in the State of Colorado are at a critical juncture. This November there are three initiatives on the ballot of serious consequence. Grassroots St. Vrain is an independent, non-partisan organization committed to informing and activating citizens on education related issues in the greater St Vrain Valley such that our community casts an informed vote.
These initiatives are of consequence to education because 70% of local school funding comes from the State of Colorado. The combination of 101, 60, and 61 would reduce state revenue by over $1.6 billion when fully implemented.
This week we are focusing on the facts about Amendment 60. For more information on Proposition 101, you may find last week’s communication available here at grassrootsstvrain.wordpress.com.
Amendment 60 proposes to cut property taxes in ½ and set revenue limits back to 1992 levels. The primary source of funding for Colorado schools comes from property taxes. Cutting property taxes in ½ by 2020 is projected to costs schools across the state $1.22 billion. Proponents of this measure say the effect is cost neutral because of state backfill requirements. But with ongoing state budget shortfalls there is NO money to provide the backfill. K-12 education alone was cut $110M in 2009 and an additional $260M in 2010 – with more to come. A backfill of ½ of all property taxes collected in Colorado is impossible.
Locally, communities could re-vote to re-approve their local property taxes. But any increases are limited to 10 years and must be re-approved by public vote every 10 years thereafter. In St. Vrain, we would have to repeat the MLO election we had in 2008, in 2018, 2028 and every decade following. Municipalities will also have to repeat prior elections that approved spending limit increases. These would have to be repeated every 4 years.
Amendment 60 – A constitutional amendment that would cut local support for schools in half. Would:
- Cut local property taxes for schools in half by 2020 – reducing local funding by $1.22 billion – requiring the state to replace lost local revenue, but providing no way to replace the revenue.
- Override local elections in the 98% of Colorado school districts where voters have chosen to let schools keep revenue above the constitutional “TABOR” limit.
- Allow individuals to initiate local ballot initiatives to cut mill levies.
- Require many colleges and universities to pay property tax for the first time.
In short, Amendment 60 would overturn the will of local voters, leading to deeper cuts and higher fees Pre K-20.