Coloradans rally for and against Amendment 66

Schools graphic

DENVER — It will be one of the biggest questions on the November ballot: Should Colorado increase the income tax in order to increase funding for education?

Amendment 66 calls would increase the income tax an average of $133 dollars a year, providing a $1 billion increase in education funding.

Supporters of Amendment 66 took their campaign to the streets on Saturday. Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia helped kick off two of the 15 statewide rallies today for Amendment 66.

“People will be able to see how every dollar is spent in their particular district,” Garcia said. “In their particular school building.”

One of the biggest rallies took place in Jefferson County, a political battleground in many elections and state’s largest district for years. Parents and teachers in JeffCo said there is a lot at stake.

“I want my kids to have the same high quality education in JeffCo that I had as a graduate of JeffCo Public Schools,” said Ami Prichard, a mother and teacher in the district. “Right now it’s kind of threatened.”

Prichard argues that education is threatened because Colorado lacks behind others in per-pupil funding. She says the 1 billion in additional funding would help offset the money lost since 2008.

Supporters of Amendment 66 have already rolled out television ads advocating for the tax increase, and by the end of the day Saturday, volunteers knocked on 50,000-60,000 doors across the state to bolster that message.

Opponents of Amendment 66 are also trying to spread their message. Earlier in the week, several groups came together for a news conference to explain why they will vote against it.

“We strongly support education, but we vigorously urge all Coloradans to turn down this graduated income tax,” said John Brackney with the south metro chamber.

Those who oppose Amendment 66 argue that the increased tax will put a drain on the economy, and that the price tag will be too much for many Coloradans.

“Ten dollars a month to working families, to seniors, is a co-pay to see a medical professional,” said former state senator Bob Haggedorn. “It’s what a generic prescription drug costs.”

Supporters of Amendment 66 say the increased cost will be worth it if the state wants to stay competitive.

“We’re not supporting our kids at the same rate as other states,” Prichard said. “It’s really scary because I know my kids are going to be competing with kids from other states.”