Restoring Education funding in Colorado at the Ballot Box

UPDATE: Bright Colorado qualifies as Proposition 103 on the November, 2012 ballot:


Last week supporters of the Bright Colorado initiative submitted over 142,000 signatures in an effort to restore funding to Colorado’s underfunded public education system.

Since the passage in 1992 of the anti-tax constitutional amendment, TABOR, which I profile in my book, Tax Crusaders and the Politics of Direct Democracy, Colorado’s education system has taken a hit.  A huge hit, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities documents.

K-12 spending as a percentage of personal income dropped from 35th to 49th between 1992 and 2001. Colorado’s K-12 public education funding remains in the bottom quintile of the 50 states. Funding for K-12 public schools has been cut by $600 million over the past three years.  Higher education funding is no better.  It too is one of the stingiest in the country, and support for higher ed has been sliced by nearly half over the past decade.

By returning state tax rates to 1999 levels–which amounts to a 0.1 percentage point increase in the state sales tax and a 0.37 percentage point increase in the personal and corporate income tax rates–Bright Colorado is expected to temporarily generate more than $500 million annually for K-12 and higher education through 2016.

There’s no question that raising revenue in the current economic climate is not easy, but if conducted wisely, the Bright Colorado ballot initiative campaign has a chance.

Wouldn’t it send a strong signal across the country that Colorado means business by restoring its public education system?