Many parents have written or stopped in to ask whether Amendment 66 is related to Common Core. With an upcoming vote on the matter, it makes sense to provide parents with a sense of Ridgeview’s perspective on the matter. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board actually put it quite well: “The Colorado Tax Increase for Education, or Amendment 66, follows the well-trod union script of claiming to raise taxes in the name of better schools. Its real purpose is to repeal restraints on tax increases and open the door to even higher taxes and more spending on everything.”
This includes a repeal of Colorado’s flat income tax in exchange for a two-tier progressive income tax with an income break at $75,000. For some, it will amount to a 26.6% tax increase and rake in over $900 million in the first year, and it all comes without an expiration date. This tax increase would affect around 92% of small businesses since they typically file at an individual rate. The money collected here will not stay here. Of the tax revenue generated within Larimer County, fifty-six cents on the dollar will be redistributed to places like Denver and Aurora where the need is considered to be greater. This might be a form of coercive philanthropy except that recent studies have shown that there is nearly no relationship between increased per pupil spending and higher test scores or graduation rates. Where these problems proliferate, they are much more likely cultural than fiscal.
At a time when over 190,000 Coloradoans are unemployed, over 511,000 are on food stamps, and the state’s debt is approaching $55.5 million, an additional tax to improve education and encourage more businesses to move to Colorado while its neighbors in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska are cutting taxes looks foolish. Also, as some newspapers have commented, it’s hardly clear that the real purpose of Amendment 66 isn’t to shore up Senate Bills 191 and 213, which do have connections with Common Core. Moreover, both the state treasurer and the CDE’s chairman, along with the Colorado Spring Gazette, have noted that it looks like it’s designed to “backfill the state’s troubled Public Employees’ Retirement Association, which owes retired and retiring teachers and other state employees considerably more than it has. It could do this whether proponents of the bill want it to or not. Until a proposal is written that protects the money from PERA, voters cannot trust a billion-dollar tax with a mere promise the money will help children.”
Finally, when the government is involved, the return on investment is notoriously poor. At the end of the day, regardless of one’s political affiliations or leanings, one must ask themselves whether the government has done a good job of educating the youth with the money they have been given thus far, and whether more money is the thing that will allow them to improve upon their good work. Unfortunately, the money is not simply left in our own pockets for voters to spend on the schools they believe in. When the town’s biggest profligate shows up at the poker table, exhausts all of his money and that of anyone who was willing to loan him any, the answer to his request for house credit should be an emphatic no.