Tax refunds or more money for schools and roads? That’s how a coalition frames a debate it hopes to spark in Colorado.
A group of bipartisan civic leaders announced Friday that it’s starting a campaign to get a measure on the 2016 ballot asking voters to ease a revenue cap on state government.
“We are really determined to get something done about this,” said Dan Ritchie, co-chair of Building a Better Colorado, a nonpartisan coalition that toured the state having conversations about Colorado’s political system and constitution.
If passed, the measure’s backers say state funds could be spent fixing potholes and reducing class sizes in schools instead of being refunded to taxpayers.
“Our education needs are not being met and we are not maintaining our road system and streets,” said Ritchie, after making the announcement at Great Education Colorado’s annual conference. “We should be planning for the future in 20 years and that applies to our kids, not just our roads.”
Supporters acknowledge that such a measure wouldn’t fix an underlying structural problem with Colorado’s budget.
“[But] the first rule of getting out of a hole is to stop digging,” said Lisa Weil, who directs Great Education Colorado, a non-profit that advocates for more funding for public schools.
The ballot initiative will likely draw opposition from advocates of small government who support the revenue cap. And backers will need to collect 98,000 signatures to get the measure on the 2016 ballot.
That group’s leaders say the state’s financial future is at stake.
At meetings held across the state last summer, they focused on problems they see with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights — TABOR. Voters enshrined the measure in the state constitution in 1992 as a way to limit the growth of government.