January 21, 2018

Education Funding Initiative Launched

A new coalition calling itself Great Futures Colorado announced last week a new ballot initiative that would alter the state constitution in order to allow the legislature to raise taxes without an election for funding preschool, K-12, and higher education. The constitution right now requires an election for any tax increase regardless of the size or purpose. The first step will be persuading the legislature to refer the measure to the November 2010 ballot. If they pull that off, then they’ll need to persuade the voters to approve it.

The state constitution is pretty dysfunctional when it comes to budget and fiscal policy, with a convoluted and nonsensical mix of growing spending obligations, sharp spending limitations, and some other elements that produce bizarre results ((like the Gallagher amendment, which pushes a growing and very large proportion of the property tax load onto commercial properties). And because all of these elements are in the constitution, they can’t be altered without the voters themselves amending the constitution. I’d rather that we tackle the mess all at once, since piecemeal efforts may result in new unintended consequences, but I also understand that sometimes the political reality requires an incremental approach. I’m looking forward to the conversation as everyone dives into the details of the proposal.