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Petitioners seek amendment to tax rich for Colorado schools - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Petitioners seek amendment to tax rich for Colorado schools

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Carole Partin, a retired teacher, collects signatures for Initiative 93 from parents waiting to pick up their children from Roncalli Stem Academy in Pueblo Carole Partin, a retired teacher, collects signatures for Initiative 93 from parents waiting to pick up their children from Roncalli Stem Academy in Pueblo
PUEBLO -

Volunteers are currently circulating petitions across Colorado seeking a constitutional amendment that increases spending on schools by applying higher income taxes on individuals and businesses.

Initiative 93, dubbed the Quality Public Education Fund Amendment of 2018 would reportedly generate $1.6 billion in new revenue for schools, increasing per-pupil spending by $7,300 a year. The proposal would raise individual income tax rates on people earning more than $150,000 per year on a graduated scale from 0.37 percent to 3.62 percent.

The measure would also increase the state corporate tax rate by 1.37 percent.

Retired teacher Carole Partin volunteers in Pueblo to collect signatures for the petition drive. She's found that it helps to visit a captive audience, parents waiting to pick up their kids after school.

"We have a little brigade of women, and we just kind of knock on windows and they actually listen to us and we've been very successful," Partin said.

She points to the fact that Colorado lawmakers have consistently underfunded public schools since the recession hit under the standards mandated by Amendment 23.  For district's in Pueblo, Partin said the combined negative factor is around $22 million.  Initiative 93 would meet and beat that deficit.

"For Pueblo 60 and 70, they would get an additional $40 million."

Many parents seemed receptive to the idea and readily signed her petition sheets. Parent Isaiah Carroll told us he doesn't believe teachers earn enough.

"I think it's a shame that the teachers today are not making the money that you're paying these basketball players and you pay all these high priced people and you pay teachers $25,000 a year," he said. 

The financial impact on small businesses is unclear. Tony Gagliardi of the 7,000 member National Federation of Independent Businesses of Colorado said many small business owners report their business income as personal income.

Gagliardi has not yet surveyed his members about Initiative 93 but said that economic optimism is currently at an all-time high.

"Things are looking up but the quickest way to bring that to an abrupt halt is a tax increase because they will immediately look at that and go what will it cost me and what do I have to give up," Gagliardi said.

Still, Partin believes Colorado's kids deserve better funding than they're getting.

"Our kids aren't getting the opportunities that kids in the rest of the country are getting and why can't they?"

As a proposal for a new constitutional amendment, the circulators must collect signatures equivalent to at least 2 percent of the population in each of the State's 35 Senate Districts. If the initiative makes the ballot, it must then pass with 55 percent of the popular vote according to new restrictions passed under Amendment 71. 

A federal judge ruled in March that Amendment 71 is unconstitutional. However, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request by Secretary of State Wayne Williams to keep the 35 district requirement in place while the case is under appeal.

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