Message from Great Education Colorado:
I am so sorry to have to share with you some very disappointing news:
The Colorado Priorities citizens’ initiative will not appear on the ballot this year.
Unfortunately, the proponents of this critical measure were unable to raise the large amount of money necessary to gather enough signatures to qualify. Therefore, the campaign is suspending its efforts.
Please don’t stop reading here. As supporters of public education and a member of the Great Ed community, you need to know a few important things:
1) You all were amazing. The Colorado Priorities campaign has had a challenge in raising campaign funds from the beginning. Nonetheless, the signature gathering process got off to a great start because of the remarkable volunteer efforts of people like you. Despite the fact that petitions weren’t available until the last days of the school year, you took up the challenge and gathered over 15,000 signatures throughout the summer months. With hundreds of volunteers carrying petitions, we—the education community—were on track to turn in a quarter of the 98,492 necessary to make it on the ballot. We couldn’t be more proud of, and indebted to, our field team and all of our volunteers who took the plunge into signature gathering. (If you still have petitions outstanding, please turn them in to Great Ed.)
If we had had more time, we could have done so much more. Next time we will.
2) You made a lasting difference. Don’t think for a second that our work together was in vain. As hockey great Wayne Gretsky once said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Because the future of education in Colorado was—and still is—at stake, we had a moral obligation to take this shot. Because we did, tens of thousands of people had conversations that never would have happened otherwise—conversations about the importance of investing in public education, about our outdated tax code that needs to be modernized, about how we each play a critical role in the health of our communities and state.
In the coming years, when the now-inevitable cuts to education take place, we’ve provided a context for understanding why those cuts are happening and how every one of us has a part to play in turning the tide. Because of you, more Coloradans than ever understand their role in making Colorado a better place for students and families.
3) We probably would have won. The polling indicated that Coloradans were very open to the common sense idea of letting the state keep our small individual “rebates” and to invest those dollars in the things that help communities thrive: education, mental health, senior services and transportation. We were ready to come together for the common good.
4) Our current constitutional structure doesn’t give taxpayers power; it takes it away. It’s ironic that Coloradans won’t even have the opportunity to vote their values this year, because it costs so much to put a measure like this on the ballot. It is frustrating that the default in Colorado is cutting services we value rather than allowing citizens a choice on how they want their tax dollars used to support this great state.
5) We’ll use the lessons we learned and the infrastructure we built next time. And there will be a next time. We can’t stand idly by as the potential of Colorado’s children is diminished by inadequate investment in their education. We know this problem won’t fix itself; it will take a common purpose, wise strategy, sustained effort and passion.
But that’s OK. We just got a glimpse of what this community could accomplish when we all work together and we feel awfully good about our chances. We know that with enough time, planning, and buy-in, grassroots can overcome the barrier to the ballot.
Thank you for being a part of this movement. Ultimately we’ll succeed, because failure is not an option.
Lisa Weil Executive Director Great Education Colorado