Lawsuit filed challenging education tax hike petitions

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DENVER — Just as the campaign gets underway to sell voters on a $950 million tax hike to generate new funding for Colorado schools, the initiative itself is being challenged in court.

On Wednesday, two plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Denver district court challenging the petition signatures that were certified by the Secretary of State last month after a line-by-line review.

The group “Coloradans for Real Education Reform”, which is leading opposition to Amendment 66, announced the lawsuit, which was filed by two former state lawmakers, Norma Anderson, a Republican, and Bob Hagedorn, a Democrat.

The Secretary of State’s office invalidated 46 percent of the more than 160,000 signatures turned in.

The plaintiffs claim as many as 39,555 additional signatures could be invalid.

If 3,715 signatures are deemed invalid, the initiative could be struck from the ballot.

“This lawsuit was announced by press release at 5 p.m.,” said Andrew Freedman, executive director of Colorado Commits to Kids. “Without seeing the filing, we have no comment other than to say we are fully confident Colorado voters this fall will retain the right to vote on Amendment 66 and investing more in our schools.”

Amendment 66 would fund full-day kindergarten statewide and a number of other education reforms; additionally, state education funding would be doled out to districts based not on attendance but on need — districts with higher percentages of at-risk students would be eligible for additional funding.

The proposed tax increase is two-fold.

On taxable income up to $75,000, the state’s rate would increase from 4.63% to 5% for all taxpayers.

For Coloradans earning more than $75,000 annually, their taxable income above that threshold would be taxed at a rate of 5.9%.

The Yes on 66 campaign launched its first television ads on Tuesday.

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