Amendment 66

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On Tuesday, November 5, Colorado citizens will be asked to cast their ballots and vote on Amendment 66, which proposes a significant income tax increase to raise money for K 12 education in Colorado.   If the amendment is passed successfully, the public school system in Colorado will likely see an influx of $950 million, which will go a long way to revive distressed schools that have had to dismiss staff and reduce critical programs due to lack of funding.

For Colorado citizens with incomes below $75,000, the amendment would raise the tax rates from 4.63 percent to 5 percent. Those with taxable earnings of more than $75,000 per year would pay 5 percent on the initial $75,000, and a rate of 5.9 percent on any taxable income above that amount.

Support for Amendment 66 has come from unexpected sources outside of the state of Colorado. Most notably, philanthropists Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg are backing the tax hike by making sizable donations to the marketing campaign, urging Colorado citizens to vote in favor of Amendment 66.  Mayor Bloomberg is donating $1 million, while Bill Gates is making a $1.05 million contribution.

For schools hit hard by the economic recession, Amendment 66 could make an enormous impact. The additional funding would support students with disabilities, students at risk of academic failure, enrichment programs for gifted and talented students, and programs that support students who speak English as a second language.

“The prospect of moving the pendulum toward a more fiscally sustainable public education system where all children throughout Colorado have a chance to succeed and flourish is an opportunity the Board of Education cannot ignore,” John Malloy, Superintendent of the Aspen School District, commented.

If Amendment 66 is approved, the Aspen community will contribute between $9 and $12 million in new income taxes to the state, but the Aspen School District will only receive approximately $250,000 (approximately 2% of Aspen’s contribution).  By comparison, Denver County’s contribution of $118 million will result in a return of $131 million (112% of the income tax).

Even if Amendment 66 is passed, the Aspen School District would continue to face a $2.6 million funding gap, which will still have to be filled by taxpayers.

The daily operations of the Aspen School District would be largely unaffected by the passage of Amendment 66.

“At the student level, there won’t be many noticeable changes; however at the adult level there will be,” Kim Martin, AHS principal, reported.

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