Oh FirstBank, what were you thinking???

In digging through the No on Amendment 73 campaign, we discovered a donation from a real Colorado business and we were shocked, dismayed, upset, and then angry. If you haven’t read that yet, start here – http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/do-you-have-1039673-extra-this-month-we-found-out-who-does/

We expect the typical tea party folks, the uber wealthy who don’t want to pay any taxes at all, the school privatizers, and the extremists but take a look at the donation on September 21.

(PS – All of this is available to you on reports in the Colorado Secretary of State Tracer site.

Date Contributor Amount Aggregate
10/10/2018 DON COOK $5,000.00 $5,000.00
10/10/2018 JOHN MONARK $99.00 $99.00
10/10/2018 MARK CAMPBELL $500.00 $500.00
10/10/2018 ROBERT HOTTMAN $2,500.00 $2,500.00
10/9/2018 DENVER SOUTH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP $50,000.00 $100,000.00
10/9/2018 GORDON GOULD $100.00 $100.00
10/9/2018 JOEL SCHAEFER $100.00 $100.00
10/9/2018 JOHN BURROUGHS $50.00 $50.00
10/9/2018 THOMAS CULLEN $5,000.00 $5,000.00
10/8/2018 ACME MANUFACTURING COMPANY $1,000.00 $1,000.00
10/8/2018 BRUCE PETERSON $5,000.00 $5,000.00
10/8/2018 KATHYRN ROGERS $5,000.00 $5,000.00
10/7/2018 GARY GARBRECHT $500.00 $500.00
10/6/2018 DON MAROSTICA $500.00 $500.00
10/6/2018 THOMAS CONWELL $100.00 $100.00
10/5/2018 COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FUND $50,000.00 $334,500.00
10/5/2018 JAMES KELLEY $5,000.00 $5,000.00
10/5/2018 MICHAEL MCDONALD $10,000.00 $10,000.00
10/5/2018 SMACNA COLORADO $5,000.00 $5,000.00
10/4/2018 DANIEL NOY $1,000.00 $1,000.00
10/4/2018 READY COLORADO $150,000.00 $468,000.00
10/3/2018 JAMES SLATTERY $100.00 $100.00
10/2/2018 JON MEDVED $1,000.00 $1,000.00
10/2/2018 READY COLORADO $50,000.00 $318,000.00
10/1/2018 JODY HERSEY $25.00 $25.00
9/28/2018 OLSON PLUMBING & HEATING CO $12,500.00 $12,500.00
9/28/2018 RICK GARDNER $200.00 $200.00
9/27/2018 ROBERT JENNETT $500.00 $500.00
9/26/2018 HOUSING & BUILDING ASSOCIATION OF COLORADO SPRINGS $10,000.00 $10,000.00
9/26/2018 JIM POWERS $250.00 $250.00
9/26/2018 PLATTE RIVER EQUITY $10,000.00 $10,000.00
9/26/2018 READY COLORADO $268,000.00 $268,000.00
9/25/2018 ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS $25,000.00 $25,000.00
9/25/2018 BARCLAY MILLER $2,500.00 $2,500.00
9/25/2018 BILL FITZGERALD $250.00 $250.00
9/25/2018 CHRIS BOUCK $250.00 $250.00
9/25/2018 DENISE MUND $50.00 $50.00
9/25/2018 METRO HOUSING COALITION $2,500.00 $2,500.00
9/25/2018 RICH TODD $1,000.00 $1,000.00
9/24/2018 BILL CAGLE $1,000.00 $1,000.00
9/24/2018 COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FUND $284,500.00 $284,500.00
9/24/2018 COLORADO FARM BUREAU $10,000.00 $10,000.00
9/24/2018 DENVER SOUTH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP $50,000.00 $50,000.00
9/24/2018 GRAND VALLEY BANK $2,000.00 $2,000.00
9/24/2018 JOHN IKARD $500.00 $500.00
9/24/2018 RICH BEHR $99.00 $99.00
9/24/2018 TERRY CONSIDINE $10,000.00 $10,000.00
9/21/2018 COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF MECHANICAL AND PLUMBING CONTRACTORS $25,000.00 $25,000.00
9/21/2018 FIRSTBANK $17,500.00 $17,500.00
9/21/2018 FRANK NESSINGER $1,000.00 $1,000.00
9/21/2018 HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION $2,500.00 $2,500.00
9/17/2018 MIKE ZOELLNER $5,000.00 $5,000.00
8/16/2018 LUKE RAGLAND $62.67 $62.67

FirstBank! Seriously! An institution that says they support public education. While it’s true that they did indeed make a donation to We Are Jeffco for $10,000 to support the mill and bond, they haven’t always made donations to those mills and bonds in the past.

But seriously, FirstBank made a $17,500 donation to the group opposing fixing our education funding in Colorado. They didn’t just not support Amendment 73, they actively made a large donation against it!

As a customer, I immediately sent several messages and emails.

“Which of your leadership team arranged a 17,500 donation to the campaign against funding education? I need this information as a customer. You donated to people with criminal histories while our youth suicide rate is twice the national average and we can’t keep mental health professionals in our schools because we don’t have the funding. Not to mention the other billions in cuts to our kids’ education.”

When they didn’t respond promptly, I took to Facebook to let others know about this donation.

Well, they finally responded via private message, on Facebook, and via email – all with the same cut and paste response. But not before they first lied to me. You shouldn’t Tweet a response telling someone to check for a message they sent you and then tell the same person they can’t send you messages in private after tell you they already did it.

Here’s the cut and paste message they sent to EVERYONE who asked them about this donation:

Dear Shawna,

Good evening. Please know FirstBank is a strong supporter of a well-funded public education system, and we believe educational funding is extremely important. In fact, education is one of our main pillars of giving, and over the years, we’ve contributed millions of dollars to public school systems, higher education scholarship programs and nonprofit organizations that help make quality education more accessible. 

That said, we reviewed Amendment 73 in great detail, and found that this measure places a large financial burden on small businesses, who would ultimately be the biggest funder of the $1.6 billion tax increase. This would have far-reaching, negative implications on job creation and economic growth in our state, as over 90 percent of Colorado’s economy is made up entirely of small business. It’s estimated more than 11,000 jobs would be lost annually in private sector jobs alone as a result of this tax increase, according to findings by several nonprofit business groups. 

While we support educational funding and improvements to our education system, we do not believe Amendment 73 is the right approach. 

If you have additional questions or concerns, please let us know. 

Thank you.

For further assistance, please contact a 24 Hour Customer Service Representative anytime at (800) 964-3444.

Sincerely,

Rachel Hamilton
Online Communications Supervisor

 

Well, if you know us, you know we weren’t finished talking, nor were we satisfied with that response. As Rachel said, I do have additional questions and concerns! Here’s the email I just sent:

Shawna Fritzler fritzlersm@aol.com
To Banking Banking@efirstbank.com

Thanks Rachel, for the cut and paste response, we ALL got the same response and that shows a lack of care and attempt to silence your customers who are upset. However, I’m well aware that FirstBank did not ask for or even attend or invite a speaker for a presentation about Amendment 73 to get the facts. You simply can’t say that you looked into anything while having ZERO education policy experts on staff and a limited number of attorneys who do not specialize in education funding or education anything and claim that you “looked into” anything. You didn’t invite the campaign, you didn’t invite the Colorado Fiscal Institute, you didn’t invite the Colorado School Finance Project, and you didn’t invite Great Education Colorado. You invited no one and no experts at all.

We just finished the Safety and Security Task Force in Jeffco, if you had any idea the dangers our children and staff were facing every day, you’d be a fool not to invest in education after the cuts our children and staff have endured. Are you aware that our youth suicide rate is DOUBLE the national average and we can’t pay behavioral health specialists to stay in our schools? Not to mention the many other safety and security needs.

While you made a $10,000 donation to We Are Jeffco (for 86,000 kids), there are more than 900,000 students in Colorado schools. $33 million with a ratcheting down Gallagher rate will do NOTHING to make a dent and we’ll have to go back to the voters yet again in just a few years. You made a 17,500 donation to promote a dark money group associated with Koch money to promote actively campaigning against children. You could have given We Are Jeffco that additional $17,500 knowing there are more than 500,000 people to reach in Jeffco.

You didn’t just oppose Amendment 73, you used the money you make from customers to donate to opposing a campaign for funding. Funding that would still leave Colorado BELOW the national average. 

I am shocked, dismayed, and disgusted to see FirstBank joining in a donation to this group. Those of us in the education community often disagree but we all have each other’s backs and because we are the community, the business members, the parents, the teachers, the classified staff, the principals, and the economic backbone of this community, we benefit by always working with each other. Jeffco Schools is the largest employer in the County, how many of those staff members do you think have accounts with you? How many of our organizations? How many of the PTAs I referred to you support Amendment 73 (all of them including their County Council and State PTA) and are donating and volunteering to finally have a chance to fund our schools at a rate that will STILL BE BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE!!!!

Further, you have associated yourselves with this:
There’s the guy on committee as the registered agent and then there’s the address on the committee.
A quick trip to the County Assessor’s website shows that it isn’t the registered agent who owns that townhouse.
It’s a man named Alan Philp, according to his many bios, as he appears to be working at a number of dark money extreme organizations: “Philp is a seasoned political and public affairs operative with 20 years of experience running candidate and issue campaigns in 18 states.  A former Policy Director to Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Deputy Chief of Staff to Colorado Governor Bill Owens. During the 2010 election cycle, Philp served as Regional Political Director for the Republican National Committee, overseeing a nine-state region in the Southwest United States, North Dakota and Alaska. In 2007-08, he served as Regional Political Director for the Romney for President primary campaign, overseeing a 10-state region that included Florida and several states in which Romney was victorious, including Colorado, North Dakota and Alaska. His experience with the RNC and the Romney campaigns equips him with a wealth of political and professional contacts in nearly 20 states. Philp previously served as Executive Director of the Colorado Republican Party; ran one of the first large 527 political efforts in the post-McCain-Feingold era; served as Research Director for Republican media firm The Murphy-Pintak-Gautier-Hudome Agency; and served as Research Director for Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.”

More interesting reading from the Colorado Independent archives here:

For months Colorado Confidential has been reporting on the various misdeeds and assorted escapades of the Trailhead Group, a Republican political committee that has raised millions of dollars in efforts to boost the candidacies of Republican candidates around the state.
Trailhead has engaged in some questionable accounting of its funds and has been accused of running misleading advertisements, and one of those charges has finally caught up with Trailhead director Alan Philp. Colorado Confidential’s Cara DeGette reported on the possibility of criminal charges against Trailhead several weeks ago, and it looks like those charges have come to fruition.
As The Denver Post reported today:
Alan Philp, executive director of the Trailhead Group, is expected to be charged criminally this morning in El Paso County for airing a political ad that was “recklessly and willfully false,” according to a Trailhead attorney.
Attorney John Zakhem, who represents Trailhead, a conservative campaign group organized by Gov. Bill Owens and wealthy Republicans, confirmed that Philp will be charged this morning.
Attorney Scott Gessler, who is a friend of Philp’s, said in an e-mail, said he will be charged with a misdemeanor for recklessly or willfully making a false statement intended to influence an election.
“This is the first time to my knowledge that this charge has been (filed) by a district attorney,” Zakhem said…
Despite the independent legal opinion of the Secretary of State, they don’t seem to care that they’re hurting our children and schools and they keep repeating the lie!
That’s right, there’s a public legal opinion from the Secretary of State’s office that proves them dead wrong. Check it out!  https://www.casb.org/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=1148&dataid=2432&FileName=Amendment%2073%20Legal%20Opinion.pdf
“These interpretations are incorrect. As an initial matter, neither is consistent with the stated intent of the drafters, the Blue Book, or the analysis by Legislative Council Staff. More importantly, however, neither alternative interpretation is consistent with the text of Amendment 73.”
“Similarly, Legislative Council Staff’s fiscal analysis of Amendment 73 does not endorse either of the alternative interpretations described above. It states that “[f]or property taxes levied by all other local governments, current law determines the residential assessment rate,” and that “[t]he calculation for the target percentage and the residential assessment rate will be determined by the assess values used for all other local governments and is unaffected by the measure.”21 These statements unambiguously reject the alternative interpretations, making clear that Gallagher formula will remain unaffected by Amendment 73.”

Do you really think the Library Associations and Fire Chiefs and personnel would be supporting Amendment 73 if this were remotely true? Of course not!

We are so grateful for both journalists and the Colorado Secretary of State Tracer website.
If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t know about the $334,500 this group calling itself the Colorado Economic Leadership Fund donated to the No on Amendment 73 campaign to oppose funding public education or the connection to the damaging Fix our Damn Roads group that is run by the Independence Institute. Be sure to see our EXTREME CAUTION on 109 article!
So this group is definitely from Colorado, right? Because Colorado is in the name. Well, the street address of their registered agent (their attorney) is definitely in Denver but the mailing address is….wait for it…

THE BAHAMAS!

The Bahamas is definitely close to Colorado, just 1,994 miles or a quick 4 hour plane ride!

CELF – Address Document

That’s right! If you support economic leadership for Colorado, you definitely have a mailing address in the BAHAMAS!

And of the group that has $1,039,673 to blow on anything at all in one month, this “Colorado” Economic Leadership Fund has lots of money. Lot and lots and lots of money. There’s this from TRACER just for this year:
Contributor City, State Type Amount Date ▼ Recipient Name
COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FUND DENVER, CO Monetary (Itemized) $75,000.00 10/10/2018 FAIR MAPS COLORADO
COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FUND DENVER, CO Monetary (Itemized) $50,000.00 10/5/2018 FIX OUR DAMN ROADS
COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FUND DENVER, CO Monetary (Itemized) $50,000.00 10/5/2018 BLANK CHECK. BLATANT DECEPTION. VOTE NO ON 73.
COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP DENVER, CO Monetary (Itemized) $50,000.00 10/4/2018 COLORADO ADVOCATES FOR RURAL ELECTRIFICATION (CARE) INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE COMMITTEE
COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FUND DENVER, CO Monetary (Itemized) $284,500.00 9/24/2018 BLANK CHECK. BLATANT DECEPTION. VOTE NO ON 73.
COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FUND DENVER, CO Monetary (Itemized) $100,000.00 9/12/2018 FAIR MAPS COLORADO
COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP DENVER, CO Monetary (Itemized) $15,000.00 7/24/2018 BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY FUND
COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FUND DENVER, CO Monetary (Itemized) $200,000.00 6/13/2018 FAIR MAPS COLORADO
COLORADO ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FUND DENVER, CO Monetary (Itemized) $50,000.00 6/8/2018 COLORADANS FOR RESPONSIBLE REFORM

And that’s NOT all! They also have paid for all of this in mailers, thanks to awesome journalists for tracking it:

Looks like someone in the Bahamas (oops, “Colorado”) definitely wants control of the Colorado Senate!

Who funds this Bahamas Colorado Economic Leadership Fund? It’s a 501c4 organization. That’s a nonprofit that can participate in political activity for both issues and candidates but does not have to disclose donors.
Thankfully, part of that detail is here:  http://ftm.copolitics.co/message_detail/clef_jensen_912
“About the messenger:
“The Colorado Economic Leadership Fund is a nonprofit group formed in 2014. It doesn’t have a website, nor is it registered as a political committee with the Secretary of State. 
“The messenger’s money:
“In 2016, Anadarko Petroleum donated $510,000 to the group, while Noble Energy gave $25,000.
“In 2018, the nonprofit donated $200,000 to Fair Maps Colorado, which supports two measures on redistricting; $50,000 to Coloradans for Responsible Reform, which opposed a measure limiting housing growth that didn’t make the ballot; and $15,000 to the Business Opportunity Fund, an independent spending committee that supports pro-business candidates.”
When the Bahamas Colorado Economic Leadership Fund isn’t busy opposing funding public education or trying to buy the Colorado Senate, you can also find them funding things like this:
“Advocacy groups funded by and sympathetic to oil and gas interests, such as the Colorado Economic Leadership Fund, have also been running ads on TV urging people not to sign the petitions.
“Indeed, the stakes are high for those with financial interests in the oil and gas industry.
“Initiative 94 proposes an increase in severance taxes paid by the oil and gas industry for minerals extracted from Colorado, stating, “In Colorado, the oil and gas industry pays an effective severance tax of only 1.5 percent; but, in the neighboring states of Wyoming and New Mexico, the oil and gas industry pays an effective severance tax of 6.5 percent,” according to the initiative. It continues, “It is the intent of the people of this state to require the oil and gas industry to pay its fair share in severance taxes and stop exploiting Colorado’s natural resources and people.”
“According to the Colorado Legislative Council Staff’s fiscal impact statement, if passed, Initiative 94 will increase oil and gas severance tax revenue by $148.3 million in FY 2018-19 and $307 million in FY 2019-20, with ongoing increases in future years. The increased revenue would be used to establish all-day kindergarten in Colorado public elementary and secondary schools; and medical care and treatment for people suffering negative health impacts caused by oil and gas production in communities impacted by oil and gas production.”
“Right away I noticed that both pieces were “paid for by Colorado Economic Leadership Fund.” Hmm. Who are these people?”
“A little bit of digging answered the question. It turns out CELF is an oil and gas industry front group.” See https://www.denverpost.com/2017/07/16/oil-gas-industry-public-influence-campaigns/ 
“The Denver Post article notes that “the oil and gas industry in the past four years has poured more than $80 million into Colorado to shape public opinion and influence campaigns and ballot initiatives, creating a political force that has broad implications throughout the state.”

Why would economic leadership oppose education? Strong schools promote economic growth!

The Bahamas looks like a nice place to visit if you can afford it, but let’s let Colorado citizens decide what is best for Colorado.

Corporations don’t have a vote like the people do.

Colorado ranks 48th in the nation in per pupil spending per $1,000 of income. Also, Colorado ranks 38th in overall per pupil spending. Since the inception of the “BS” factor schools have lost $7.3 billion (yes billion). Colorado is $2,800 per pupil below the national average (again, your $13,000 per pupil is not adding up).Colorado is 49th in the nation for a competitive teacher wage and over 50% of the districts are now on a 4 day week to try to save money and attract teachers (we currently have a 5,000 teacher shortage in the state). I realize that Colorado has a flat tax. However, when taking all taxes into consideration the tax code is upside down. This information is directly from the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy. When taking all the taxes paid (not just state but federal and local as well), the less you make in Colorado, the more of a percentage your income goes to taxes. For example, if one makes $12,300 per year, 7.6% of your income goes to taxes. If you make $30,000-$52,000 per year, 8.7% of your income goes to taxes. If you make $79,000 per year, 8.3% goes to taxes. If you make $140,000 per year 7.1% of your income goes to taxes. If you make $317,000 per year, 6.3% of your income goes to taxes. If you make $1.7 million a year, 5.3% goes to taxes. When this passes all categories will stay exactly where they are with the exception of those making $317,000 per year (they will go from 6.3% to 6.9%) and those making $1.7 million (they will go from 5.3% to 7.1%). Still not equal, but closer. Doesn’t sound like hating the rich and running them out of the state when 92% of Colorado will still be paying a higher percentage of their income to taxes.
 
You never even mention the tax breaks many will see. For C-Corps the federal level was set at 35%. The additional tax on C-Corps in Colorado is an additional 4.63% making the rate in Colorado at 39.63% (which by the way is the 3rd lowest state tax rate of the 33 states that charge an additional C-Corp tax. Don’t even try to tell me that states like Texas are cheaper for C-Corps because they are not. They don’t pay a state tax but they do pay a franchise fee that is equal to or higher than the Colorado state tax) But something happened earlier this year. Something called a 14% tax cut for C-Corps federally which equates to C-Corps dropping to 21%. What we propose is that instead of the entire 14% being cut in Colorado that we add an additional 1.37% onto the existing 4.63% making it a round 6% for Colorado. So instead of Colorado C-Corps being at 25.63%, they would be at 27%. C-Corps actually see a 12.63% tax decrease overall. Low and behold, Colorado would now be the 9th lowest C-Corp rate in the nation of the 33 states that charge a C-Corp tax.
 
And, the last part you make no mention- the tax cut for all other businesses (S-Corp, LLC, Sole Proprietor etc…) and the homeowner. If you own your business and the land that it’s on, you will see a 5% property tax decrease for that portion of your property taxes go to your local district. If you own your home you will see a .02% tax cut.
 
I’m not too sure how a 12+% tax decrease for corporations and a .02% tax decrease for residential and a 5% tax decrease for all other businesses that are not c-corps results in massive tax hikes for business. Run the tax calculator. I’ve actually seen where a person making $300,000, with a $250,000 home and a $300,000 passthrough on their LLC gets between an $800-$1200 Tax cut per year.
 
I am not exactly sure where you’re seeing the business tax increase. But I’m sure it has everything to do with the fact the TABOR requires The ballot language and the bluebook language be written in a specific way. You have to remember that there are three parts to this amendment. First is The income tax increase for 8% of Colorado. Second is the 1.37% tax increase for c-corps. However, they actually see a 12+% decrease when combined with the federal tax cut rather than the 14% tax decrease that was given to them federally. And the third part is trying to address portions of the Gallagher amendment. If you are not a c-Corp you will see a 5% tax Decrease (to 24%) on the property you own. That decrease will only go to the portion that applies to schools. Gallagher requires 29% on the other special districts. And that has not changed due to this amendment. Your residential property will drop from 7.2% to 7%.
 
There’s always an excuse. Why is it that education initiatives always face opposition? We’ve defunded education for over a decade at this point and children don’t get to redo their years in school. What we have taken away from them in services has NEVER returned.
Education funding has not recovered from the recession: In the 2017-18 school year alone, Colorado schools were underfunded by nearly $830 million.
Colorado’s investment in education is lagging behind other states. We rank near the bottom in personal income invested in education.
Colorado needs to spend between $2,000 and $2,800 more per pupil to meet the national average.
Colorado is experiencing a teacher shortage crisis — 95% of teachers in rural districts don’t make enough salary to meet the cost of living.
Yet, here come the folks who not only don’t want to have to pay for education, they actually file a campaign and are planning on spending $$$ against our teachers and children! And they have “talking points” so here we go!
They formed a COALITION to oppose children and teachers!
THE COALITION INCLUDES: Colorado Bankers Association, Colorado Restaurant Association, Associated General Contractors, Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors, Colorado Association of Realtors, Denver Metro Commercial Association of Realtors, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Competitive Council, Ready Colorado, Independence Institute, Colorado Rising Action, Colorado Farm Bureau, Americans for Prosperity, Building Jobs4Colorado, South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.

Same people who like to say our schools are failing, our children aren’t good enough, and those who work to privatize public education.

One has to wonder why some of these groups put their names alongside dark money organizations. Do they benefit from that money too or are they just ignorant of the facts?

Here are some of the long list of claims designed to confuse voters so they can serve the big, dark money masters:

MYTH – Amendment 73 is a $1.6 billion per year blank check.
TRUTH – they want local control, yet when it’s given to them, they still complain. Local control is also needed because 178 different Colorado school districts have made different cuts and have different populations that have different needs. GO TO A COMMUNITY BUDGET FORUM AND ADVOCATE FOR THE SERVICES YOU THINK WE NEED!
The initiative also plans for equitable distribution of the revenue raised. Unless and until the legislature creates a more equitable School Finance Formula, this initiative would:
  • Increase base funding for all students
  • Provide for full-day kindergarten and increase the amount of revenue going to early childhood education funding
  • Expand the definition of “at-risk” students to count free and reduced lunch kids
  • Significantly increase the amount of funds passing from the state to local districts for: English Language Learners, Special Education, and Gifted & Talented students
Dollars are under control of the locally elected school board. Examples of how funding could be spent (there are many and this will be up to local control including your input at the annual community budget forums):
  • Safety and security
  • Mental health
  • Career and technical education
  • School maintenance and repair
  • Reducing class size
MYTH – Amendment 73 is being sold as a big benefit for teacher pay and new school buildings, but the reality is the measure has no guarantee that the funds will be used for those purposes. A big portion of the money will go toward administrators, overhead and the huge education bureaucracy. There are zero guarantees teachers will get all or even most of this enormous tax hike.
MYTH – Backers of the measure have openly bragged that school districts can spend the money however they want. That’s why there is little doubt that a significant portion of the tax increase will go toward administrators, overhead and the education bureaucracy. Currently, only 55 cents on every dollar goes to pay teachers.
TRUTH – Huge administration is the myth floated by the tea party groups and a method of pitting teachers against administrators and parents against administrators. While all districts have varying percentages of administrators, in Jeffco, only 4% of all staff are administrators.

Who watches Jeffco budget and oversees how money is spent?

The Capitol Asset Advisory Committee:
The Board of Education authorized the establishment of the Capital Asset Advisory Committee in accordance with Policies EL-8 and FB, both of which deal with facility condition and long range facility planning.  The Committee was formed from members of the 2005 Capital Improvement Program Oversight Committee and the 2009 Facilities Usage Committee.  The purpose of the Committee is to monitor the planning of capital needs and the implementation of capital programs, which may include future bond programs.
Members have a working familiarity with facility design and/or construction practices; business management expertise with organization(s) of comparable size to the district, and are independent and free from any relationship that would interfere with independent judgment.  Preference is given to Jefferson County residents.
The Facility Planning and Design Committee
As part of Jeffco Public Schools effort to reduce costs and identify efficiencies, the district examined all areas of operation, including how schools and facilities are used throughout the district.  More than 30 community and district volunteers were chosen to serve on a Facilities Usage Committee in early 2009 to help the district determine the most efficient and effective use of its buildings. The work of the Committee will be ongoing.
The Facilities Usage Committee provided options to the district for an efficient use of all district facilities where educational services are provided that align with the Board of Education Ends Policies and the district mission of educating all students for a successful future.
The Financial Oversight Committee
The Board of Education chose citizens from a group of applicants to serve on the District’s Financial Oversight Committee
This group meets at least 10 times a year and has seven business community members
The group meets monthly throughout the school year and the primary function of the oversight committee is to assist the Board of Education in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities by reviewing:
  • financial reports and other financial information used internally and provided by the district to any governmental body or the public;
  • the district’s systems of internal controls regarding finance, accounting, legal compliance and ethics that management and the Board have established;
  • assess the business risk of the district; and the district’s auditing, accounting and financial reporting processes generally.
Consistent with this function, the Financial Oversight Committee should encourage continuous improvement of, and should foster adherence to the district’s policies, procedures and practices at all levels.

Transparency?

Jeffco Schools was recognized and awarded for transparency!  Jeffco was one of the first school districts to create an online searchable database for the public to use.
The district is committing to providing an easy-to-use, clear view of how taxpayer dollars are spent by listing expenditures by fund. Jeffco’s financial transparency website was recently awarded an “A” by the editors of Sunshine Review.
Editors at Sunshine Review analyzed more than 6,000 government websites and graded each on a 10-point transparency checklist. Editors looked at content available on government websites against what should be provided. They sought information on items such as budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes. The winners of the Sunny Award all received an “A” grade during the extensive grading process. Only 214 websites were awarded!

And there’s more!

The 2012 Bond is complete with projects on-time AND under budget! Look at the tremendous amount of work that’s been done!

4% Administration!

The truth? Jeffco has only 4% administration. That’s lower than nearly every district in the state!
You can oppose taxes all you want. If you choose to do that, then you need to find a way to fund the services our community needs to provide in another way. That’s not through lottery tickets, not through casinos, not through marijuana, and not through any other creative scheme that shows you pictures of children. What you shouldn’t EVER do, is hurt and negatively impact the lives of children by telling lies, spreading misinformation, or inaccuracies about education funding.
Are these good for our kids?
  • Changing boundaries and transportation radius
  • Limited ability to meet basic deferred maintenance
  • Continuing to lose great staff
  • Larger class sizes
  • Higher fees for parents
  • Lack of resources for student learning
  • Cutting programs and opportunities for students
  • Cutting school days
MYTH – Amendment 73 totally undermines the state’s voter-approved TABOR state spending limits. By exempting education – the largest program in the state’s budget – from the state spending cap, Amendment 73 is a backdoor scheme to allow big-spending politicians to cost-shift and spend unlimited amounts of tax money on other programs also. Amendment 73 is a blatant deception.
TRUTH – Who are these big spending politicians???? It’s OBVIOUS that cuts to education have occurred! Send some big spending politicians our way, we want to talk to them!!! As parents, we’ve been begging for years! We gave more per pupil funding to students in 1990 than we do today! The only people who can increase taxes in Colorado are VOTERS!

And TABOR? We’ve made national news! The nation is laughing at us! Check out the video (WARNING, extremely off color language but amusing, if we weren’t living it!!!)

“The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (abbreviated TABOR) is a concept advocated by conservative and free market libertarian groups.”
“Douglas Bruce is a conservative activist, convicted felon,[8] and former legislator in the U.S. state of Colorado, most widely known for being the author of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR).”
“…the lack of tax revenue has hurt Colorado in many ways. For instance, Colorado ranks 48th in the nation for higher education funding (per personal income level), which is the lowest in 40 years, representing a drop from 34th in 1992.[12] In another example, Colorado now ranks 44th in what it spends to repair its roads.”
“Opponents also argue that Colorado’s economic growth has largely been despite – not because of – this system, and is a result of changing societal desires for open spaces, outdoor sports opportunities, and other “quality of life” issues that are now imperiled by Colorado’s inability to provide expanding governmental services. They point out that almost 90% of state tax revenues are now already earmarked for various purposes, handicapping the state legislature and giving it very little flexibility.”
“They also add that the process has not been as “democratic” as its advocates purport, citing the off-year voting and complex wording that may skew results. Some opponents claim that complicated tax decisions are best decided by deliberation based on well-informed argument and informed consent, such as presumably occurs in legislatures, rather than the simplistic and emotionally charged appeals that tend to dominate referendums.”
MYTH – Amendment 73 is being sold as a tax increase on wealthy CEOs and big corporations, but that’s dishonest. Amendment 73 triggers a massive income tax increase on tens of thousands of small businesses, farms, middle income married couples, and each and every homeowner in Colorado. Some of Colorado’s best-known and most vital employers would be hit with tax increases as high as 78 percent.
TRUTH – Really? Check your personal impact with the #A73IMPACTCALCULATOR
Colorado’s status as a low tax state is secure even with Amendment 73 passing because we will still have:
  • 3rd lowest property tax rates in the nation
  • 9th lowest corporate tax rate among the 44 states with such taxes.
  • 10th lowest for income tax rates for those making up to $200,000
  • For business property owners, farmers and ranchers, they will see a tax decrease of about 17% on their school property taxes when nonresidential assessment rates are reset.
Even the 1% in the highest tax bracket will still pay less of a percentage of their income than teachers, police officers, and other hard-working middle class Coloradans.
MYTH: The property tax increase on Colorado homeowners was written so poorly that it will force more money to schools at the expense of fire districts, library districts, and irrigation and water districts. (link to first responder post)
TRUTH:
In order for Initiative 93 (now known as Amendment 73) to clear the Title Board Hearing, it had to meet the Single-subject Requirementin the state’s constitution.
In accordance with Colorado law, ballot titles:
  • must be brief;
  • cannot conflict with another ballot title selected for any petition previously filed for the same election;
  • must be in the form of a question which may easily be answered “yes/for” or “no/against”; and
  • must unambiguously state the principle of the provision sought to be added, amended, or repealed.

1.  Single-subject requirement

  • Every proposed constitutional amendment or statutory proposition must be limited to a single subject, which must be clearly expressed in its title. In other words, the text of the measure must concern only one subject and one distinct purpose.
  • For additional information relating to the single-subject requirement, see Article V, Section 1(5.5) of the Colorado Constitution and section 1‑40‑106.5, C.R.S.

About Amendment 73 & how it stabilizes local level funding for public education.

Public education is the only local level funding the state is required to backfill. Because of Gallagher, the personal property assessment rate has fallen from 21% in 1982 to the current 7.2%. The Commercial rate has remained at 29%. Commercial property owners carry the burden while personal rates fall, creating a funding crisis for our schools (as well as fire districts, water districts, and many other services).
Amendment 73 addresses this issue /crisis for public school funding, by dropping the current 7.2% to 7.0% and holding it there to prevent further loss of funding – for public education only. 73 also provides long over due relief to commercial property owners (business owners, farmers, and ranchers) by dropping the commercial rate from 29 to 24% and holding it there to prevent any fall in future local funding for education.

Please note these stipulations to Gallagher assessment rate are only for education.

This is why fire districts, park districts, etc. often put their own mill levy initiatives on the ballot. To fix this issue, these districts can also file initiatives (just as we did with Initiative 93/Amendment 73) but they must be single subject, as the constitution requires! Without this fix, these special districts will continue to decrease in funding, just as education has over the years.

If you look at your property tax bill, it will look like this in 2019 –

If Amendment 73 is approved by voters (Residential):

School mill levy rate – 7.0 %
APEX Park and Sec mill levy rate – 6.1%
Arvada Fire District mill levy rate – 6.1%

If Amendment 73 is not approved by voters (Residential):

School mill levy rate – 6.1 %
APEX Park and Sec mill levy rate – 6.1%
Arvada Fire District mill levy rate – 6.1%

If Amendment 73 is approved by voters (Commercial):

School mill levy rate – 24.0 %
APEX Park and Sec mill levy rate – 29%
Arvada Fire District mill levy rate – 29%

If Amendment 73 is not approved by voters (Commercial):

School mill levy rate – 29%
APEX Park and Sec mill levy rate – 29%
Arvada Fire District mill levy rate – 29%
Is it more work for county assessors? Yes, but we’ve all used formulas and calculations in spreadsheets. It’s not that hard to reformulate a calculation in a computer program. They can do their assessment spot check as usual, they just get to do an extra calculation. Several County Assessors and candidates are supportive of Amendment 73, Jeffco candidate Scot Kersgaard even carried a petition!
I am so very disappointed and your response speaks volumes as to your true interest in public education. I highly doubt that your employees, many of whom have children in schools and spouses and family members working for our district, would approve of whomever made this bonehead decision. I have spoken to several other banks this morning to check in as I decide where to move my accounts and several of their VPs stated that they would never dream of participating in such a dreadful decision to oppose school funding in any form. They’re also quite eager for the business I can send to them.
Tell me what is needed to close my accounts with you as that is what I intend to do while I take the time to ensure everyone I know is aware of what you’ve done. You should apologize to so many of us and you should be making a $17,500 donation to the Yes on Amendment 73 campaign and at least one more to every single school in every district where you have a bank. 
Corporate greed will eventually show itself, thanks for making sure that we are aware of what you really stand for. I know how poorly your tellers are paid, perhaps you should think about using that money for bonuses for them and other staff.
Thanks so much! I’ll be in to close my accounts soon and don’t be surprised if you see a mom with a sign standing on public property outside your banks after I’m done volunteering my time for the election and for children!
Shawna Fritzler
Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.  ~Elizabeth Stone