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Tuesday Churn: Tax plans

What’s churning:

The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute has decided not to go ahead with a ballot proposal to create a graduated state income tax, concluding the support isn’t there to pass a measure next November.

But Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, says he’s pushing ahead with his plan to propose increases in state income and sales taxes, specifically to fund schools and higher education.

The institute filed six ballot titles last month, partly to test the waters on which proposal would best fit the state’s single-subject rule for ballot measures.

On Monday, institute director Carol Hedges announced, “As much as we believe Colorado needs swift action to address its fiscal challenges and stop the cycle of damaging cuts to our public services, these measures were not able to gather the broad support needed to move to the ballot in 2011.”

On Feb. 28, Heath announced that he was filing a ballot title that would increase individual and corporate income tax rates to 5 percent from the current 4.63 percent, raise the state portion of sales and use taxes to 3 percent from 2.9 percent and earmark spending of revenue from the increases for K-12 and higher education. The higher rates would kick in on Jan. 1, 2012, and expire on Dec. 31, 2014.

Heath subsequently filed a second proposal, identical to the first except without the expiration date. He said Monday he’s determined to go ahead with one of the proposals, even though the prospects of wide support are uncertain, as the institute found out. Heath believes the budget squeeze facing education programs is too serious to wait for a broader fix of the state’s conflicting constitutional provisions.

Meanwhile, Jon Caldera, president of the Independence Institute, has filed a ballot title for a measure that would reduce the state income tax rate to 4.5 percent.

In other news, the Colorado Health Foundation‘s annual report card gives its lowest mark, a D+, to the category rating the health of the state’s children. Among the factors cited – nearly 12 percent of youngsters were not covered by health insurance between 2007 and 2009, ranking the state 44th in the nation in this area.

The 2010 Colorado Health Report Card examines various indicators and awards grades for all life stages, from “healthy beginnings” to “healthy aging.” The highest grade, an A-, went to the latter category. You can see the full report card here.

What’s on tap:

The Denver school board legislative oversight committee scheduled for noon has been canceled.

Adams County Westminster 50 holds a community meeting about the 2011-12 budget at 6 p.m. at Westminster High School, 6933 Raleigh St.

The Poudre School district board will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Johannsen Support Services Center, 2407 LaPorte Ave. in Fort Collins.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Another round: Obama brings Race to the Top-style incentives to the world of higher education. New York Times.

Gates model: A Q & A with Bill Gates about education, including his belief that higher taxes are necessary to substantially improve graduation rates. Wall Street Journal.

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