Sen. Heath launches initiative to support schools

Yesterday, Senator Rollie Heath announced that he was going forward with Initiative #25. Heath said it was going to be a 5-year timeout to education cuts.

Denver’s finest Eli Stokols reports:

“For too long we have been near the bottom in funding our schools, and the budget cuts we’ve made the last two years have made a bad situation worse,” Heath said. “We can’t tolerate that anymore.

“Doing nothing is just not an option.”

It raises about $530 million annually for education for 5 years by raising the state sales and income tax back up to 1999 levels before the legislature cut them. That is, sales tax goes from 2.9% to 3.0% and state income tax goes from 4.63% to 5.0%. That will equate an average of about $550 per student for all K-12 and higher ed students.

Heath’s initiative has been flying under the radar now; people seemed to have forgotten about it. He says he has the support of several groups, like Great Ed, ARC of Colorado, Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, and local teachers’ unions, among others.

He certainly has a long road to collect the 86,000 necessary signatures, especially if it actually is a grassroots campaign like he claims. I was at an event last week and somebody asked me to sign the petition, so he has at least started some organization.

Poll follows:


Also, apparently, Treasurer Walker Stalpeton thoughts were important, as he was quoted as well. He did have this gem of a quote:

Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton said the fact that Heath is going to the ballot proves he has no support at the Legislature, which concluded the 2011 session last week.

“I think he chose to have it on the Monday after the legislative session ended because he knows there’s no support for this initiative in the state,” Stapleton said.

What? First off, TABOR demands that any sort of tax increase must go to the ballot, and cannot be passed just by the legislature. Secondly, does that mean that anything that can’t get through the legislature has “no support in the state?” This logic must mean that the Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter) have terribly unpopular platforms! There is no support for civil unions, pay day lenders, pro-immigration reform, anti-immigration reform, etc etc you get the point.

Obviously, any sort of legislation to increase state revenue wasn’t going anywhere in the Republican controlled House. If Heath really wanted to raise money to support education, which he seemingly does, he had to go the initiative route.  [poll id=”1344″]

28 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. cunninjo says:

    Why only 5 years? So that districts can face yet another financial cliff in 5 years? More than anything our schools need CONSISTENT revenue sources so they can plan into the future and hire the appropriate faculty.

    Much of the budget cuts the state has made to K-12 education result from Ref C ending and stimulus dollars going away.

    I’m all for increasing taxes to support education, but only if it’s permanent.

    Initiative campaigns require so much time and money. Either go big or don’t bother!

    • droll says:

      The problem with Ref C is that no one bothered to do anything about the expiration. Well, one person kind of tried. If failed.

      So you’re almost right, but we aren’t the only two voting. I think, if it’s approved, in five years (an off year) we run it permanently, it might have a shot.

  2. droll says:

    I doubt there are that many Eli Stokols in the city. ColoradoPols’ finest droll comments… Also the furthest left, right, and moderate. 😉

  3. Mark G. says:

    How do they guarantee the “370.00” does not get passed down the food chain to the lower level producer? My understanding of economic tells me the wealthy will simply increase prices and reduce wages to offset any inconvenience.

    370.00 is nothing to a person making 100K however it is a large amount for anyone in the 25-50K range.

    This is the problem with all taxation; it always travels to the bottom rung of producers, contra Atlas Shrugged.

    • droll says:

      History is our friend. Fiction is for couches with blankets on cold days.

    • MADCO says:

      by electing legislators who do  it.

      Amendment23 proved there was no way to sequester education funding if the legislators didn’t want to.

      And glad to see you support progressive taxation.

      Yes, the .0037 income tax increase means a Colorado taxpayer with  $100k of taxable income would pay $370 more.  And taxpayer with 50,000 of taxable income would pay $185 more.  And the $25k taxpayer – $92.50.

      ANd the taxpayer with no taxable income (poor people and seniors)  – pay nothing additional (in income tax – they would still be subject to sales tax when they buy eligible stuff – $0.01 on every $100.

      My understanding of Economics  seems to be different form yours.  The only way producers can pass on increased expenses is if or when they have pricing power.  But in a market they would optimize profit in any case, and so would set prices accordingly- max for charging, min for paying.   And in this case you have not demonstrated  that any CO “producers” who are higher income tax payers would have that kind of pricing power.  

      But I’m open – name one.

      • Mark G. says:

        It is not one producer, it is all of them. It happens spontaneously, people want what they want and when you have savings and substantial assets, you need not be squeezed.

        Similar to minimum wage. Every time you increase the minimum wage, it sends a shock wave through the global market. The market responds with higher prices. In the end, the minimum wage receiver is exactly where they started, however there is less of them because jobs have been reduced.

        If you are a Keynesian and I am an Austrian we see things opposite and will never agree…

        • MADCO says:

          you can explain why Hayek, main founer of the Austrian School chose to live out his retirement with a Brit pension he neither paid for nor supported with Brit healthcare he neither paid for nor supported.

          Perhaps his school of economics was more academic than, you  know, real worldy

  4. cunninjo says:

    I don’t think a permanent increase would be less likely to pass. The opposition will make the same arguments either way. And, if voters are willing to pay extra for 5 years, why not 7 or 10 years?

    If no one was willing to make a serious attempt at extending Ref C, why should I trust someone will try to extend this tax increase in 5 years?

    These initiative campaigns cost millions. And big donors would rather spend their money on candidates. That’s why, if you manage to get substantial financial support for an intiative, you better make it worthwhile.  

    • droll says:

      That’s what your original comment said. I’m merely pointing out that logic and tax increases don’t always (or never) go together. One of the selling points on Ref C is that it would only take us until the economy was better. Putting us back where we were. Back fired, of course.

      The same logic of extending applies to going permanent. Do I have faith that someone will? Not really. Do I have faith that someone is willing to go to the mat now? Absolutely not. Like I said, tried and failed. If anything it kind of marked the start of the fall of Romanoff. Labeled a political misstep. Sad, then we all moved on.

      Generally I tend to agree about all or nothing, but sometimes reality has to intercede. Gay marriage isn’t coming any time soon. So I’m willing to compromise even though we shouldn’t have to. Same idea here.

      So again, you’re right, but voters most likely won’t agree. Democracy is sometimes a bitch.

      • cunninjo says:

        To your gay marriage analogy, I also am willing to compromise accepting civil unions instead of gay marriage. However, would you support civil unions if we said they are only allowed for 5 years?

        I’m simply arguing that a temporary increase may cause more problems than it’s worth. Schools, and businesses, want consistency more than anything. Continuously changing income and sales taxes will have a bigger impact on education and the general economy than a permanent increase will. When there is financial uncertainty, organizations of all types become reluctant to spend their resources. And that is bad for us all.  

        • droll says:

          Voters don’t exist. Keep arguing a point with me, that I’ve already said I agree with. Don’t bother to counter with anything other than more of the same.

          Can you source anything you just said? That nothing is better than something? Did your lobotomy involve bleach?

          • Middle of the Road says:

            No need to get nasty on this one.  

            • droll says:

              How many times do people need to post the same thing over and over again? “It’s this because I say so!” No consideration for anything. Ever. It bothers me. I tried to be nice. It didn’t work.

              • Middle of the Road says:

                You seem a bit off these days. Maybe I’m reading more into your comments lately than I should…

                • EmeraldKnight76 says:

                  How many times does one need write their response verbatim? If you bring nothing new to a conversation, why bother? I would be annoyed as well.

                  • Middle of the Road says:

                    the guy is downright annoying. But maybe laying off the over the top insults would be something to consider as well.  

                    • droll says:

                      I’m sorry I suggested there was bleach involved. All better? I’m looking forward to your new, sympathetic Libertad bashing.

                      In all seriousness, this has become every freaking thread. I’m trying to avoid a good share of the mayor race, which means I’m in threads trying to learn things. Can’t. There’s always some idiot posting the same thing repeatedly. Frankly, I’d rather see one liner insults. They’re faster to scroll through and people who know stuff are less likely to get involved.

                    • Middle of the Road says:
                    • cunninjo says:

                      I’m so sorry you get annoyed by explanations of why you are wrong.

                      Of course I’m going to keep repeating the same argument when you continuously attempt to challenge it with baseless assertions of voter attitudes.

                      Personal attacks are only signs of one losing an argument. So please, keep them coming.  

          • cunninjo says:

            I’ve already said that I don’t think voters will differentiate between a 5 year tax increase and a permanent tax increase. Both options will involve the same amount of voter education and both most likely fail. Could I be wrong, sure. But I believe the best politics is good policy.

            As for sources:

            “Consistency in economic and fiscal policies is one of the things companies large and small look at when they’re going to make they’re decisions,” Rathgeber said. “We need a long term solution so we don’t continue this cycle, after cycle of how are we going to dig our way out of this hole this year.”


            Uncertainty can paralyze a business. Do you hire new employees now or later? Order more product or wait and see? A certain amount of planning is necessary to ensure that any business runs smoothly.


            • droll says:

              Five years to invest. Five. Or we can invest nothing. Your choice.

              • cunninjo says:

                We can invest every year! I’m not going to support some half-ass initiative because people are too afraid to make real substantive change. People like Rollie Heath and COFPI constantly rail on how awful TABOR is and yet they NEVER EVEN TRY to do anything about it. Always one stupid temporary fix after another.  

                And 5 years is hardly any time at all. Especially in the education world. It’s barely one cycle of high school students. And when schools have made little improvements in performance in 5 years, Republicans will point and say, “Look, we gave them money and it did nothing”. Schools need more time than that.

                So if passing this initiative makes it harder to pass a permanent tax increase, especially a progressive income tax, then yes it is better to do nothing.


  5. redstateblues says:

    If not, is it DOA?

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