Colorado voters face only one statewide ballot measure this election, and it’s of major interest to education.

Election logoProposition 103 would increase the state income tax rate to 5 percent from 4.63 percent and the state portion of sales taxes to 3 percent from 2.9 percent for five years and devote all those new revenues to education.

The brainchild of Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, the higher tax rates (the same as those on the books in 1999) would be in effect for five years. Heath, prompted by 2011 school budget cuts to propose the idea, calls it a temporary fix for education funding while policymakers develop broader, more permanent solutions to state revenue issues.

The measure would raise an estimated $3 billion over the five years, and lawmakers would decide annually how to split the money among preschool programs, K-12 schools and state colleges and universities. The legislature couldn’t use the new money to supplant existing funding; 2011-12 spending would be set as a floor.

Heath’s effort is a low-profile one. The main groups supporting the measure, Great Education Colorado and the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, are running a small-budget, grassroots campaign. The state’s mainline education interest groups have endorsed Proposition 103.

The main opposition is a group of Republican lawmakers and conservative activists who argue higher taxes would reduce job growth at a time when the state’s economy is fragile.

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Prop. 103 fundraising inches up

Groups supporting Proposition 103 continue to outpace opponents in fundraising, according to the latest contribution and spending reports. And supporters of the measure have launched the first TV ads in the campaign. Story

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“Colorado State of Mind” discussion about Proposition 103

From EdNews’ partner Rocky Mountain PBS

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