Why students should support Initiative 271, otherwise known as Fair Tax Colorado
Everyone who has lived in Colorado and who has seen our public school system knows our schools are in trouble. Our schools are in trouble because the state is not giving schools enough money. This problem is becoming more prominent with the COVID-19 epidemic and the economic struggles associated with it. According to the State Legislature, the State of Colorado will face a budget with $3.1 billion dollars less than in previous years, meaning a 25% reduction. Even with a strong economy, our state fails we students with how much it funds education. According to Great Education Colorado, our state ranks 46th in the nation for the change in the percentage we spend per student since 2003. To put it simply, there are only three states which have education budgets more stagnant than ours. We are only better than Georgia, Texas, Indiana, and Idaho. With these low funds, Colorado also ranks 41st in student-teacher ratio, we are 44th in the math gap, 39th in the reading gap, and our state ranks dead last in teacher wage competitiveness. We are struggling and we are in trouble. We students will continue to have a lower quality education which may result in lower quality jobs and lower paying jobs for our future. Colorado is a great state and our education spending should reflect this. Right now it does not.
This brings me to my main point, why students should support Fair Tax Colorado. If this initiative passes this November then our state will gain up to $2 billion dollars in tax revenue and we will finally demonstrate to the rest of the country, how much we value our students’ education and future. So what is Fair Tax Colorado? It is a tax proposal that eliminates the current system of a flat tax, where all people pay the same percentage of their income no matter how much they make annually. That means the multi-billionaire pays the same percentage as the individual working paycheck to paycheck. This will change with Fair Tax Colorado. The tax rates will change for all tax brackets but the only people who will see an increase in their tax rates will be for those making more than $250,000 a year. The new tax system will be one of progress; a system where 95% of Coloradans will see a tax decrease. With this initiative, Colorado will raise $2 billion more in tax revenue, with half of it automatically earmarked for things like recruiting new teachers and student support staff. This is exactly what we need for our schools especially in these tight budget times brought on by COVID-19.
So how can we students help? Though most of us are under 18, those who are legal adults are able to carry petitions. Even some of us who are still 17 can sign and circulate. The Colorado State Legislature recently passed a law that says if you are 17, but will be 18 by the general election on November 3rd, you can sign and carry for Initiative 271. To get this on the ballot all we need is 2% of the voters from each State Senate district to sign. If you’re concerned about the spread of COVID-19 there are ways to circulate petitions while still maintaining separation. Fair Tax Colorado has this video explaining how to collect signatures safely.
If you’re not old enough to circulate then you can still help by asking your parents to sign. This is our education at stake and we need to fight for it. The good news is we are fighting the good fight. We are fighting for billions of dollars of new revenue while giving most of our fellow Coloradans a tax break. So if you are interested please visit Fair Tax Colorado’s website to lead the charge to a better education for you and a better education for all of your classmates. We can make our education better, but we can only do that if we fight.