Proposed initiative could mean more money for local schools

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A state ballot initiative that would shave off some of the annual Taxpayers Bill of Rights refund and redirect that money to local schools could help fill some gaps, local education leaders said.

Supporters of the plan, Ballot Initiative 63, need to collect  124,632  signatures from registered voters by Aug. 8 to get the matter on the November ballot.

Colorado taxpayers could see an extra $750 in their checking accounts this year, thanks to an overcollection of state taxes in 2022. The state’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights requires that money be reimbursed.

If the so-called Initiative 63 makes the ballot and passes in November, some of that money won’t get into checking accounts. It would require the Legislature to allocate one-third of 1 percent of taxable income (individuals, corporations, estates and trusts) to school funding.

“I don’t know. I don’t have an opinion about this,” Weld Re-8 Superintendent Alan Kaylor told his bosses, the Re-8 board of education, late last month. “We haven’t had a lot of big players behind it. It’s another mechanism for the state to look at to put more money into K-12 education.”   

The 27J School system supports the proposal. Spokeswoman Janelle Asmus said the proposal “...can take an important step in filling the loss of funding of all Colorado public education … because of the Legislature’s decision to balance its budgets using funding intended for schools.”

“This initiative would come with no expected tax rate increase,” she said. “These funds are already being collected and simply need to be directed specifically to education.”

Asmus also said the measure could bring people into the teaching profession.

“It would support education's ability to hire and retain teachers and other student support professionals,” she said. “It would afford districts' ability to provide a livable wage for staff to live in the communities they teach and where they serve. 

This year, the Legislature increased the district’s per-pupil funding 3.5 percent. The rate of inflation is closer to 8 percent.

“The long bill (the bill that funds Colorado school districts) is broken,” Kaylor said earlier this spring. “We’ve been falling behind, and we are falling further behind.”

27J School, Weld Re-8 School District, Initiative 63

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