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School-tax amendment makes Colorado’s November ballot

Author: Marianne Goodland - August 9, 2018 - Updated: August 10, 2018

education ballot measure(Photo by Andrei Niemimäki, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Education ballot measure Initiative 93, also known as “Great Schools, Thriving Communities,” has qualified for the November general election, Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced Thursday.

Proponents believe the initiative will be titled Amendment 73 on the November ballot.

According to Williams, the ballot measure drew 179,390 signatures, which were turned in on July 11. Out of those signatures, 130,022 were deemed valid. A ballot measure must receive at least 98,492 valid signatures in order to qualify.

Because Initiative 93 seeks to change the state Constitution, it also had to bring in signatures from at least 2 percent of voters in each of the state’s 35 state Senate districts. The petitions met that requirement, too. In most Senate districts, there were at least 1,000 signatures over the required number.

Most discarded signatures were thrown out because the state Senate district of the signer could not be ascertained.

Initiative 93 is the first citizen-initiated ballot measure to make the Nov. 6 general election ballot, according to a statement from Williams’ office. “It involves a complex formula for raising income taxes among the state’s top earners to raise money for education,” according to the statement.

The initiative, if approved by voters, would raise $1.6 billion in income taxes and require the Colorado General Assembly to rewrite the school finance formula. An interim committee has been working on that issue for more than a year.

In order to be placed in the state Constitution, the measure must obtain approval from 55 percent of the voters, a higher threshold placed into the Constitution in 2016 as a result of voter approval of Amendment 71, also known as Raise the Bar.

There are already six voter questions on the November ballot, all referred by the Colorado General Assembly. Another six citizen-initiated ballot measures are awaiting review from the secretary of state. Those reviews must be completed by Sept. 5. The secretary of state is required to certify the ballot by Sept. 10.

Initiative 93 will mark the third time voters have been asked to answer a statewide ballot question on education funding in the past decade. The most recent, Amendment 66, on the 2013 ballot, lost by almost 30 percent. That measure would have raised just under $1 billion for K-12 education, through a two-tiered system, with those earning above $75,000 per year paying more than those below $75,000 per year.

In 2011, voters rejected Proposition 103 by about 27 percent. That measure would have raised both income and sales taxes for both public K-12 and higher education, with an expected total of about $3 billion over five years.

Rob Sanders, superintendent of the Buffalo School District in Logan County, said in a statement Thursday that Amendment 73 “will help us address critical needs and offer educational opportunities to all our students. We can address the growing teacher shortage crisis, fund programs for students with special needs, provide career and technical training to make high school graduates career-ready, and keep students safe.” He added that the amendment, if adopted, would allow local school districts to decide where resources are most needed.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.