School funding proposal falls in Moffat County, state
Moffat County voters were asked during the 2011 election to consider a state tax question that would have increased public school funding through higher state income and sales taxes.
Proposition 103, also known as “Bright Colorado,” was defeated in Moffat County by a 2,111 to 639 margin.
As of press time Tuesday night, with 81 percent of Colorado precincts tallied, election officials reported Prop 103 was trailing by approximately 250,000 votes across the state.
“Bright Colorado” proposed raising income taxes from 4.63 to 5 percent between 2012 and 2016 and sales and use taxes from 2.9 to 3 percent for a period of five years beginning Jan. 1, 2012.
It was estimated the proposal would have raised $536 million in public school funding each year and a total of $2.9 billion before sunsetting in 2016.
Joe Petrone, Moffat County School District superintendent, said Prop 103’s defeat is disappointing.
“That’s disappointing for those of us that were supporting it, but it’s understandable given the economic situation we find ourselves in the nation and in the state,” Petrone said. “We will rise above and do what we need to do locally for our students.”
When introduced, legislators said funding allocated from Prop 103 would be held in the state’s general fund. It was criticized by opponents who questioned whether that funding would truly be set aside for public schools or if the state legislature would allocate it to other areas.
“I think that is one of the primary reasons why it was defeated,” Petrone said. “I think if they had stated very clearly they intended to mitigate reductions in school funding it would have had a better chance of passing.”
Petrone said had legislators committed to allocating Prop 103 funding to all-day kindergarten programs, for example, the initiative could have passed.
“We believe that full-day kindergarten increases the achievement levels of children and the school district fully supports those programs, where the state only supports half,” Petrone said. “If the state had been that specific, I think Prop 103 would have had a better chance of passing, but there wasn’t that clarity.”
The defeat of “Bright Colo-
rado” was the second blow to Colorado’s public school system Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Gov. John Hickenlooper unveiled his proposed 2012 budget, which includes a third straight year of public school funding cuts.
According to the proposed budget, K-12 programs stand to lose $89 million over last year and higher education funds may decrease by $60 million.
However, the legislature must approve the governor’s budget before the start of 2012.
“We’ll have to take a closer look and see what effect that has on us locally,” Petrone said. “Any reduction is difficult considering the severity of the reductions we have already made in the last three years.”
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