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A66 campaign activity ramps up in the background

The Colorado Commits to Kids events calendar, largely bare for the past couple of months, has filled up this week with several community meetings and field office openings.

Colorado Commits is the main campaign organization pushing for voter approval of Amendment 66, the state income tax increase that would raise $950 million a year in additional funding for P-12 schools.

Campaign activity has been low-key to date, and some people have noticed. As one El Paso County district administrator commented to EdNews recently, “One of the questions I always get is ‘where is the media, why aren’t we getting commercials?’ That’s the one thing I hear a lot from parents.”

Colorado Commits already has opened two field offices, one in Boulder and one in central Denver. (The group’s main office is in Wheat Ridge.)

Offices are opening this week in Fort Collins, Greeley and northeast Denver, along with one in Broomfield where Democratic Congressman Jared Polis will be the featured guest. (Get more details on the opening in the group’s calendar.)

To staff those offices, Colorado Commits has been advertising for workers on Craigslist. The ads tout “EARN $$$ IMPROVING COLORADO’S SCHOOLS, NO FUNDRAISING INVOLVED Work to Improve K-12 Education in Colorado, No Fundraising!”

The ads promise $400 to $540 a week, “Plus Reimbursements for Drivers.”

Several such ads have appeared in the Craigslist Boulder and Denver sections, a few in Fort Collins and Pueblo and none in Colorado Springs.

Amendment 66 opponents are stirring a bit on the Web, although in an indirect way.

The Colorado chapter of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity has put an online petition on its website urging people sign it and “tell Gov. Hickenlooper that Colorado can’t afford his $1 billion middle class tax hike!”

The group also has posted a one-minute YouTube video, produced in the style of a political advertisement, that makes the same point. Both the online petition and video seem to primarily target Hickenlooper, and neither mentions Amendment 66 by name, that an election is coming up nor urges a no vote.

The conservative Independence Institute has launched a website, Kidsarefirst.org, that argues, “Raise expectations, not taxes” but which doesn’t explicitly mentions Amendment 66 nor urge citizens to vote no.

On the other side of the Amendment 66 divide, the advocacy group Stand for Children has posted its own online petition in support of the tax hike.

And three other groups, the Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Fiscal Institute and the Colorado Center on Law and Policy have weighed in with a wonkier defense of spending more money on education. They issued a paper, “Investing in Education Will boost Colorado’s Economy,” that argues, “The smaller class sizes, expansion of early learning and other school improvements that Amendment 66 would make possible in Colorado have proven to boost student achievement and, in the long term, help develop the type of highly skilled workforce that employers prize.”

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