DENVER — The Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder released two economic studies of Amendment 66, a statewide income tax hike on the ballot this November that aims to raise an annual $950 million in education funding to improve Colorado schools.
One study shows that Colorado’s economy would lose $224 million in economic activity during the first five years of the higher income tax rate.
“All scenarios in isolation, not accounting for how the additional revenue is spent, have a drag on the Colorado economy,” write Richard Wobbekind and Brian Lewandowski, the study’s authors.
But a second study done by the Leeds School found that Amendment 66, if approved by voters, will yield at least $4 billion in annual economic gains to the start once gains from reduced drop-out rates and increased high school and college graduation were factored in.
Supporters of Amendment 66 pointed to a different study by Jack Strauss, a professor of applied economics at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, that estimated an even greater economic impact.
He calculated the economic gains to Colorado to be $3.3 billion annually. In total, the benefits of Amendment 66 are predicted to exceed the $950 price tag for taxpayers by about $3.6 billion. That’s based on Strauss’s model, which includes benefits from reduced crime, healthcare savings, lower unemployment and welfare costs, increased property values and increased business retention and attraction.
“Colorado gains when its children perform better in school, and investing in our schools today will improve Colorado’s future,” Strauss concludes.
Colorado Commits to Kids, the organization backing Amendment 66, urges the public to consider the two studies side by side.
“These reports reach the conclusion many Colorado voters understand intuitively – investing in our education system is good for our students and it’s good for Colorado,” said Andrew Freedman, Campaign Director for Amendment 66.
“To review the impacts of increased taxes without taking into account the benefits of an improved education system is only looking at half of the equation.”
Senate Republicans issued a press release Wednesday night focusing on the impact of the taxes.
“This study reinforces the concerns that business owners across our state have had since this measure was first introduced,” said Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley. “The idea that private sector jobs will be lost and more government jobs created is concerning and quite frankly one of the worst possible things that could happen to Colorado’s economy.”