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Supporters: Rural Communities Win With Passage of Amendment 66

Photo: List of Colorado's rural communities who will benefit from Amendment 66. Courtesy: State of Colorado Legislative Council
Photo: List of Colorado's rural communities who will benefit from Amendment 66. Courtesy: State of Colorado Legislative Council
October 28, 2013

CENTER, Colo. - With a week to go in the ballot campaign for the passage of Amendment 66, advocates for Colorado's rural districts are stepping forward to remind voters how the statewide tax increase would help those districts. According to the State of Colorado Legislative Council, 50 rural school districts would see the largest per-pupil funding increase.

Damion LeeNatali, political director for the group Colorado Commits to Kids, said Amendment 66 is needed to restore equity across all public schools in the state.

"If we don't pass Amendment 66, I think the results are pretty dire, especially for our rural communities," he declared. "We have 178 school districts in this state but it's not as if we live in 178 different bubbles. We live in the state of Colorado and that's why public education is a statewide issue."

LeeNatali added that reduced populations and property values in Colorado often make it difficult for those rural communities to properly fund their schools.

Opponents of the amendment say the required tax increase comes at a bad time as people recover from the down economy. Under the terms of the amendment, a person making $57,000 a year in taxable income would pay an extra $133 annually.

George Welsh, Superintendent of Center Schools, said the additional funding would provide a significant boost for the quality of education in his district.

"I think it creates an equity that hasn't been there," he said. "The average rural school district is going to increase its funding per pupil in the range of $1500 to over $2000 per student."

Colorado's rural communities would see an additional $130 million annually from the tax increase provided under Amendment 66. LeeNatali said the help will come just in time.

"The bottom line is, rural communities stand to benefit the most out of Amendment 66," he declared. "We will be restoring funding that used to go to small rural schools that was the first to get cut when we hit the recession and we had to pull a billion dollars out of K-12 education every year."

The last day to mail in ballots is Nov. 2. After that voters can take their ballots to a Voter Service Center, located in every county, or people can vote at their precincts in person on Nov. 5.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - CO