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Prop. 103: Help for Rural Schools?



October 13, 2011

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - Supporters of Proposition 103, the ballot measure to temporarily increase taxes in order to maintain current funding in Colorado schools, are meeting to take action today. Paula Stephenson, executive director of the Colorado Rural Schools Caucus, says the state's smaller school districts have been particularly hard hit by years of cuts to education funding. These schools often have specific needs related to high costs of living, in resort communities, or smaller population base, in other rural areas.

Proposition 103 will help these school districts keep pace with federal and state mandated reforms, she says.

"We're not asking for an increase in funding. We're asking for a marginal increase in taxes to keep educational opportunities alive for our students."

Opponents say this is the wrong time economically for even a small tax increase. They claim there is no evidence that the extra money will improve either school conditions or student performance.

Steamboat Springs' local newspaper, Steamboat Today, came out against the proposition in an editorial this week, saying there is no accountability for how the money would be spent. Stephenson disagrees.

"Colorado has spent the last five years passing some of the broadest education reform of any state in the nation, and we have done so without funding it. Our schools are being asked to do more and more with less and less."

Proposition 103 would temporarily increase the state sales tax by one-tenth of a percent and increase income taxes by about $110 for a family making the state median income. Both taxes would expire after five years. Stephenson says Colorado's per-student spending is currently about $2,000 below the national average.

The Proposition 103 fiscal impact statement is available at http://tinyurl.com/3ndeund.

Kathleen Ryan/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - CO
 

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