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Amend 59 Proponents Say Current Crisis Illustrates Need for Savings

September 30, 2008

Denver, CO - A ballot measure that would create a savings account for Colorado schools is up for a vote in the forthcoming election. If passed, Amendment 59 would invest tax dollars that would otherwise be returned to taxpayers as rebates, creating a "rainy-day fund" for education.

Carol Hedges, senior fiscal analyst for the the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, says it's something Colorado could use right now, in view of the recent announcement that the state budget will have to be reduced by $100 million. Her organization supports the amendment.

"If we had this savings account, we could use that to pay for K-12 funding, and we wouldn't have to make any cuts in services."

She points out that the state government's current rate of savings doesn't leave much of a cushion, especially during such uncertain economic times.

"We have a savings that equals about one and a half percent of our budget. That is a very thin margin for us before we have to start cutting services."

Hedges adds that, even if Amendment 59 passes, it wouldn't exactly open the floodgates for more government spending.

"Colorado will still have the most restrictive limits of any state in the country because of the requirement that voters approve all tax increases."

Opponents of Amendment 59 say it is a back door attack on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR laws that were enacted by Colorado voters in 1992. Hedges counters that it gives voters a chance to make funding education a priority, while leaving intact Colorado's strict limits on government spending.

Eric Mack/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - CO