Here´s the long and short of it:
The State of Colorado is broke, and something must be done.
A study released by University of Denver researchers in September predicts that the state’s current funding gap will eventually consume the budget across the board. By 2025, the money in the state’s general fund won’t even cover Medicaid, prisons and schools.
In an effort to prevent our budget woes from further damaging education in Colorado, Sen. Rollie Heath gathered signatures for an initiative that would
increase state taxes for five years and set that money aside for education.
If passed, Proposition 103 would raise the state income tax from 4.63 percent to 5 percent and the state sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent, returning them to 1999 levels for five years. The revenue generated — an estimated $3 billion — would go toward funding education in Colorado. (For an in-depth look at the budget and Proposition 103, see “Sinking ship,” cover story, Sept. 15.)
Proposition 103 is the latest attempt to deal with Colorado’s worsening state budget crisis, which has been exacerbated by the combined impact of the Gallagher Amendment, Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and Amendment 23, which together result in less revenue in the state’s general fund.
Those who oppose Proposition 103 fear an increase in taxes will hurt the state’s economic recovery.
But the problem in our state is severe enough that something must be done now. The DU study shows that Colorado cannot grow out of this budget crisis, nor can we cut enough from the budget to solve the problem. Some rural districts in Colorado have already had to cut back to four days of school a week — not the direction Coloradans need to go if we want our children to compete for jobs in a global economy. If we can’t compete for jobs, we can’t compete economically. Education is inexorably tied to economic growth.
Will Proposition 103 solve the state’s budget problems? Hell, no. But it does buy five years of decreased cuts, enabling schools to maintain current offerings and perhaps regain some lost funding. This means kids who are receiving a diminished education as a result of recent budget cuts will get help while we try to solve our state’s bigger problem.
Boulder Weekly strongly urges a YES vote on Proposition 103.