Moffat County School Board backs Prop 103
At a glance ...
• Proposition 103 would increase the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5 percent and raise the state sales and use tax rate from 2.9 to 3 percent for five years starting Jan. 1, 2012.
• Additional funding would support preschools, colleges and universities and kindergarten through 12th-grade schools.
• If approved, the measure is projected to raise about $2.9 billion over a five-year period.
By the numbers ...
Estimated annual income tax increases under Proposition 103
• Single person with Colorado taxable income of $27,379
— Current tax: $1,268
— Tax paid under Proposition 103: $1,369
— Increase: $101
• Single person with children, Colorado taxable income of $48,571
— Current tax: $2,248
— Tax paid under Proposition 103: $2,428
— Increase: $180
• Married couple filing jointly, Colorado taxable income of $85,283
— Current tax: $3,949
— Tax paid under Proposition 103: $4,264
— Increase: $315
Source: Figures found within the language of Proposition 103
If approved, a proposed measure to increase education funding in Colorado would be felt in taxpayers’ pocketbooks — something critics contend could hurt the state’s struggling economy.
But, in Jo Ann Baxter’s view, the cost of letting schools and districts go under funded will be higher.
“I’m not an economist, I’m not a numbers person, but it just seems to me that we will be hurting ourselves in the long run if we don’t properly fund education in the state of Colorado,” she said.
Baxter, president of the Moffat County School Board, and other school board members unanimously passed a resolution Aug. 25 that supports Initiative 25, now known as Proposition 103, which will appear before voters in November.
In her view, the money could help the district fill needs, like staffing. Yet whether the proposal will be enough to help schools weather a tumultuous economy has yet to be seen.
If passed in November, Proposition 103 would raise $2.9 billion for public education in Colorado over a five-year period. Those dollars would be spread around to all levels of education, from preschool to colleges and universities.
The proposition raises the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5 percent, and the state sales and use tax rate would go up from 2.9 to 3 percent. Both increases would take effect Jan. 1, 2012.
The Moffat County School District would receive an estimated $1.1 million annually from the measure if it passes, said Terry Scanlon, a policy analyst for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, one of the organizations advocating for the measure.
Baxter said the extra money could go a long way to attracting high-quality teachers and keeping educators the district already has.
“I believe that we have cut back on our employee base substantially in the last two or three years,” she said, adding the majority of those losses have been through attrition.
But, with added funds, officials could “continue to look and see if we’re paying our employees at a rate that cause them to want to stay here,” she said.
Additional funds could be a boon to the school district, which ranks near the bottom in terms of how much state money it gets.
“We are in the bottom 10 percent of per-pupil state funding,” District Finance Director Mark Rydberg said.
But, the funding isn’t permanent. After the measure sunsets in five years, school districts would return to their current funding level.
What happens to school districts at that point determines largely on whether the economy improves.
Proposition 103 may have been designed to act as a bridge to help school districts get through tough economic times, Rydberg said.
“Hopefully at the other end of the bridge is positive Colorado economic health,” he said.
If not, “you’re going to have large cuts because you won’t be able to afford what you grew to,” he added.