In our last post, “Why Are Schools Always Asking for More Money?“, we highlighted the reasons why school funding in Colorado has fallen behind most other states. Today we are sharing a possible solution proposed by a statewide grassroots effort, called Initiative #93, “Great Schools, Thriving Communities“.
This initiative seeks to provide “better and more equitable funding of public schools.” Petitioning is underway to place the initiative on the ballot this fall, so that voters can decide whether to increase school funding across the state. Here is what Initiative 93 would do:
It creates a Quality Public Education Fund financed through a graduated income tax rate for taxpayers, and higher taxes on “C” Corporations. Currently, out of the 44 states that levy taxes on corporations, Colorado’s rate of 4.63% is the third lowest. If the rate increases to 6% under this initiative, it will still be the 9th lowest of 44 states.
The majority of the revenue raised would be through higher taxes on taxpayer incomes above $150,000, calculated through a graduated tax rate. 92% of filers will have no impact on their individual income taxes.
Initiative 93 would also change the assessment rates levied by school districts through property taxes. First it seeks to provide sustainable support for schools by stabilizing property taxes, which would lower residential assessment rates from 7.2% to 7%, and lower non-residential (businesses, oil and gas, etc.) from 29% to 24%. These rates would be frozen and could not drop further, thus stabilizing the local share of property taxes that school districts rely on for a percentage of their budget.
What is the increased funding to schools for?
The proposed tax changes are estimated to raise $1.6 billion, which would finance the following increases to school funding:
- Increases base funding for all students. Currently the base funding for each student is $6546, and this initiative would increase the base to $7,300 to bring funding closer to the national average.
- Increases “at-risk” funding to include students qualifying for reduced price lunch. Currently this supplemental funding only applies to free lunch students.
- Significantly increases the amount of funds passing from the state to local districts for: Special Education, English Language Learners, and Gifted & Talented students.
- Provides funding for full-day kindergarten and increases revenue going to early childhood education funding.
Each school district would determine how the funds are best utilized to support the students in their communities.
Initiative 93 is in the citizen-led petitioning phase required to be on the 2018 November ballot. Let us know if you would like to sign a petition, carry your own petition for friends and neighbors to sign, or have more questions.