November 3, 2013 Updated: November 4, 2013 at 9:53 am
No one believes more wholeheartedly than I in the need for the promises of Amendment 66 - smaller class sizes, more attention to students, supposed "fairness in the distribution of education dollars." Yet, Amendment 66 doesn't get us there.
Most informed Coloradans know that PERA - Colorado's state employee retirement fund - is running woefully short of funds for retiring employees, including teachers. Clearly, we must have a debate on ways to shore up that critical fund. However, legislators in Denver intend to use Amendment 66 to fix the fund under the guise of education reform. The governor is on record confirming that, once the school districts receive these monies, under SB1, they will most likely be apportioned to PERA before other education initiatives. I believe the people of Colorado deserve a more honest state Legislature and a separate debate about PERA. Instead, 66 assures voters no say in the spending of the funds, which will be done "without future voter approval."
To reassure doubters, let's review: the amendment's promoters - the NEA, the CEA ($2 million each), a finance firm with vested interests in PERA, along with sundry other backers - brought an extraordinary $7.6 million to campaign for 66, door-to-door and across all media. Just for kids? Who are they kidding? You?
The disingenuous nature of the whole campaign warrants your no vote. Worse, the drafters blithely ignore the fact that a dollar taken by taxation becomes about $0.59, in reality, once bureaucrats have skimmed off their salaries. Indeed, one wonders how the promoters stumbled upon the meager $133 per year, per family it will cost you: Enron-styled "creative accounting" at its best. Furthermore, 92 percent of Colorado's small businesses are taxed at the individual rate, which means they will be directly affected. This is the largest and most radical progressive tax increase in Colorado history. It will hit business owners hard and discourage companies from moving here. That is not what we need to restore prosperity to the people of Colorado.
This is neither the right time to tax nor the right legislation, and there are no built-in mechanisms or assessments to evaluate 66's results.
Andrea Van Nort, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of classroom experience.
Jan Tanner's response to Van Nort:
The Bell Policy Center (http://bellpolicy.org/taxonomy/term/2100) disproved claims about Amendment 66's negative effects. The "most radical" part of the amendment is that Coloradans earning over $75,000 in taxable income will pay a 5.9 percent income tax. Most Colorado households will pay 5 percent. Businesses enter communities with good education systems, access to materials, and strong infrastructure. Six of the ten states strongly recovering from this recession have progressive income taxes. Education reforms attract business.
Districts will comply with SB10-001 (PERA) requirements whether Amendment 66 passes or not. What's important is that school districts will retain local control. Amendment 66 provides transparency and accountability for all revenues received. Vote yes.