Heath launches tax initiative to fund education

He’s been talking about it since early in the just finished legislative session, but State Senator Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, Monday launched his campaign to raise Colorado taxes in order to better fund education.

“I just think that investing in education is the best way out of the situation we’re in,” Heath said, referring to the limping economy.

His proposal, which will go on the ballot in November as initiative 25 (pdf) if he is successful in gathering the needed signatures, would raise state sales taxes from 2.9% to 3.0% and would raises state corporate and personal income taxes from 4.63% to 5.0%. Both increases would stay in place for five years.

All money raised would go toward education, from preschool to college in Colorado. The money could not be used to replace other funds already going to education and the initiative would set current funding levels as the benchmark.

So far, Heath says Governor Hickenlooper is neutral on the proposal. Hickenlooper indicated earlier, however, that he was not inclined to support any tax increases this year.

Some Republicans in the Legislature said in February when Heath first floated this idea that they would oppose the tax increase.

Heath said the state cannot afford to do nothing, having cut K-12 education by about $200 million this year and knowing that the state will probably be looking at additional cuts next year.

“I know this is just a bandage but we have to stop the bleeding,” he said.

He’s joined with other eduction advocates to form Support Our Schools for a Bright Colorado to spearhead the campaign.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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