An online education-focused publication, funded in large part by the Colorado teachers’ union, is the first to report a shockingly audacious plan by newly-empowered legislative Democrats.
In 2013, Ed News Colorado reports legislative Democrats could seek up to $2.75 billion in tax hikes for education.
Colorado voters could face a $1 billion decision on school funding in the November 2013 election, if a complicated two-step reform plan plays out as its backers hope.
Discussions about the issue have been underway for more than a year but have intensified in recent weeks. Backers now plan to make school funding a top issue for the 2013 legislative session – and they hope to have a bill passed by mid-March…
Supporters of finance system reform, led by Democratic Sen. Mike Johnston of Denver, hope to achieve their goals in two steps. First, they want the legislature to pass a thorough modernization of the state’s school finance formula. Then they plan to ask voters for the money to support the new system. If the public doesn’t approve the necessary tax increases the new funding system wouldn’t go into effect.
Johnston’s partner in the effort is Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder and author of a proposed tax increase for education that voters rejected in 2011…
At a meeting last week of what’s called the Technical Advisory Group, which Johnston has used as a sounding board on school finance, he estimated the cost of his suggested reforms at more than $2.75 billion. [Peak emphasis]
Whether it’s a $1 billion tax hike or a $2.75 billion tax hike, it’s enough to do serious damage to a slowly-recovering economy.
And if that isn’t enough to break your bank, the second and third part of their plans definitely will…including requiring local school districts to increase taxes even more to access these dollars:
State constitutional provisions controlling government spending limits and property taxes have forced almost two-thirds of K-12 spending onto the state. Johnston and many others would like to shift that balance somewhat, likely by requiring districts in wealthier areas to spend more local money. “This is the single hardest problem in the debate right now,” Johnston said. “We’re trying to figure out what’s legal and what’s practical.”
And then, for good measure, go back to voters in 2014 with a separate plan to emasculate or repeal TABOR:
Heath believes voters should be presented with an even bigger issue in 2014 – reform of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the Gallagher Amendment and Amendment 23.
Without cleaning up those conflicting fiscal limitations, Heath and many others believe an education tax increase in 2013 would have only a short-term benefit. An education-funding boost alone “isn’t going to solve the problem in the long run,” Heath said. “This isn’t one and done.”
Democrats may have won big on Election Day 2012, but they are likely to find a multi-billion dollar tax hike overplays their hand considerably. In 2011, the “higher taxes for education” crowd lost big when Prop 103 went down 2-1 across the state. A ballot in 2013 is likely to have a similar electorate — one that’s predisposed to disliking tax hikes, even when they’re sold as “for the kids.”
It’s too bad Ed News only offhandedly mentions in their report that Prop 103 lost — instead of noting how big and widespread the loss was in virtually every county in Colorado. But Ed News, a new and favorite tool of the Left’s digital empire, is far from fair.
Still, this omitted fact raises a question for supporters of this tax hike — why will this time be any different?
Ironically at the center of this push is Rollie Heath, the man who was the lead dog for the failed Prop 103. We are sure Heath is just is sure that this one will pass as he was sure Prop 103 would.