Oct 032011
Authors: Bailey Constas

Funds for education have been a topic of interest for Colorado politicians after recent tax cuts affecting public schools.

One solution on the table to counteract the 43 percent tuition increase at state colleges over the past five years is Proposition 103, a bill written by State Sen. Rollie Heath that, if passed, will raise state income tax from 4.63 to 5 percent and state sales tax from 2.9 to 3 percent.

These higher tax rates would last until 2017 and would raise $3 billion for Colorado’s public education system. The fate of Prop 103 will be decided on the November ballot.

CSU political science professor John Straayer believes that the proposition is “only a partial Band-Aid for what is a very flawed set of policies in Colorado. But anything that will help bring some additional revenue to education is welcome – very much so.”

“Is it what I would like to see? I’d like to see something much more permanent, but having said that… yes, I am supportive,” he said.

Colorado is currently ranked 48th out of 50 states in higher education funding, and has one of the lowest tax rates in the country, according to a report by the University of Colorado-Denver.

If passed, Prop 103 would restore about $540 worth of education funding per student.

The proposition’s opposition argues that it will reduce jobs in Colorado and have a crippling effect on Colorado’s economy. According to savecoloradojobs.org, a campaign in direct opposition to Prop 103 fronted by former State Rep. Victor Mitchell, Prop 103 will cut 119,000 jobs over the next five years.

“Make no mistake. This ballot issue isn’t about helping your community’s schools; it’s about handing over your checkbook to the legislature and the state bureaucracy—and trusting them to do the right thing,” Mitchell said on his website. “The last thing Colorado needs in wake of a devastating recession is a $3 billion tax hike.”

Neither Governor John Hickenlooper nor Denver Mayor Michael Hancock have taken a stance on the issue, which CBS Denver Reporter Dominic Dezzutti said on his blog shows that, “Sen. Rollie Heath, the author of the initiative, has yet to build a broad enough spectrum of support for the issue.”

Students are divided on whether Prop 103 is a good idea.

“I definitely feel that [Prop 103] would benefit school programs,” said freshman psychology major Preston Hill. “It’s just a matter of how much education means to people to give up more of their money for it.”

But Matt Barett, an undeclared freshman, disagreed.

“I feel like that’s not right because if more taxes are being taken from people, then they will naturally expect to spend less when it comes to schooling,” he said.

Collegian writer Bailey Constas can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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