As the Nov. 1 election looms amid an endless education-funding crisis, student involvement remains pivotal regarding the hotly contested ballot issue Proposition 103.
If passed, Proposition 103 would raise income and sales taxes for five years before returning them to current levels. In that time, it would raise an estimated $3 billion to be put toward public education on all levels.
Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, introduced the measure after recognizing the need for a solution to the funding crisis in Colorado. And while he said this plan is not a permanent solution, he thinks it is a step in the right direction.
“The conversation has got to be how to fund higher education in the future,” Heath said. “This is the only way students are going to stop these continuous tuition increases.”
Proposition 103 would raise the state’s sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent. Additionally, it would increase state income tax from 4.63 percent to 5 percent for the next five years before returned to current levels.
Heath emphasized the importance of student involvement in the election process, especially about the issue of education funding. But he said that in his time speaking to crowds around the state, the turnout has been mostly from “traditional” voters –– something he attributed to the off-election year.
“This affects them(students) directly,” Heath said. “It’s huge.”
Heath has not yet communicated with the Associated Students of CSU or the CSU community specifically.
ASCSU has refrained from taking an official stance on the issue, according to ASCSU President Eric Berlinberg.
Berlinberg said it is important for the voters to make their own decision about the issue. However, he said there is an urgency to fix the funding gap.
“The future of public higher education in the state is heading toward a cliff that can’t be avoided unless we find an alternative source of funding,” Berlinberg said.
The issue of raising taxes, especially in today’s sputtering economy, remains the focal point for those opposed to the proposition.
Led by former Colorado Republican Representative Victor Mitchell, Save Colorado Jobs has been the leading opposition group to Prop 103. Mitchell said the proposition would be a “job killer” that would cost the state 119,000 jobs over the next five years.
“More funding has never equaled a better outcome,” Mitchell said. “There is no reason to believe that we will get better results in our public schools.”
Save Colorado Jobs predicted that the proposition would merely put the money in the state’s general fund with no specific direction of how to spend it. Additionally, Mitchell said the resulting job losses would be detrimental to future job seekers, including college graduates.
“This is not a good deal for anyone concerned about higher ed,” he said.
Regardless of the decision, nearly everyone recognizes the dire straits education funding is in –– something that will likely dominate future elections.
“A new funding stream for higher education is vital, and the voters of the state of Colorado will decide whether Prop 103 is that mechanism,” Berlinberg said.
The deadline to submit your ballot is Nov. 1 by 7 p.m. If you have moved and not received your ballot, a replacement can be picked up at the Fort Collins courthouse, 200 W. Oak St. Visit www.votelarimer.org for more information.
Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Increase sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent
Increase income tax from 4.63 percent to 5 percent