2 Ballot Initiatives Business and Education Advocates Should Support in 2020

Election season is upon us and Coloradans have the opportunity to vote on two ballot measures that would provide critical funding for education and support a thriving Colorado economy.   

Proposition EE: Taxes on Nicotine Products  

In a time characterized by extreme budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this statewide ballot measure would increase taxes on tobacco and vaping products to generate revenue to support K-12 education, universal preschool and nicotine cessation and education programs.

The measure is expected to generate $375 million for K-12 education, $2 billion over 10 years for universal preschool for Colorado 4-year-olds and $110 million for nicotine cessation and education. This critical revenue would help to close the $2.6 billion state budget gap projected for 2021 and the $1.7 billion shortfall in 2022, without increasing income taxes or property taxes.

In addition to essential budget support for K-12 education, the measure’s funding for universal preschool is a critical step towards a healthy economy. Early childhood education has proven to support long-term educational outcomes for children, laying the foundation for developing 21st century skills necessary to fill the jobs of the future. Quality preschool programs also expand parents’ ability to participate in the workforce, allowing for greater income generation and a reduction in the negative impacts that a lack of childcare access has on employers.

Colorado Succeeds urges a yes vote on Proposition EE. Visit the YES on EE campaign website for more information and resources.

Amendment B: Gallagher Amendment Repeal and Property Tax Assessment Rates Measure

Amendment B is meant to protect businesses from higher property taxes and to prevent deeper budget cuts for schools, first responders and rural communities – without increasing the property tax rate for homeowners.

The Gallagher Amendment, which sets residential and non-residential property tax rates in Colorado at a 45/55 percent split, coupled with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which requires that any tax increases receive voter approval, has resulted in less state revenue and less state funding for education as property tax rates continue to decrease.

According to the Division of Property Taxation, the property tax rate is expected to decrease from the already-slim 7.15 percent to 5.88 percent in 2021 because of increasing home values and falling values for commercial property. This results in a revenue loss of $491 million per year for schools and $204 million per year for county governments.

The state is constitutionally required to fund 61 percent of education, but with anticipated budget challenges in coming years related to the COVID-19 crisis, any increase in their share of the cost is unsustainable.  

Rural communities and businesses are also disproportionately impacted by the Gallagher Amendment. Fast-rising real estate values on the Front Range have unevenly influenced statewide property tax calculations, resulting in inequities in rural areas. Business owners have had to make up the shortfall, paying a tax rate of almost four times the residential rate.

However, repealing the amendment does not mean a tax increase. The current rate would be held at 7.15 percent, which still ranks as the lowest in the country.

Colorado Succeeds urges a yes vote on Amendment B. Visit the YES on Amendment B website for more information and resources.

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