4:44pm

Thu September 15, 2011
Education

Colo Republicans Mobilize to Fight Education Tax Hike

Battle lines are being drawn over a ballot measure before voters this fall that would temporarily hike Colorado’s sales and income taxes to backfill millions of dollars in recent cuts to education.  A group of former and current Colorado Republican lawmakers calling itself "Save Colorado Jobs" has now formed to fight the measure.

Proposition 103 would raise the state’s income tax rate by .463% to five percent and its sales tax by a tenths of a percent to three percent, or as its supporters are quick to point out, restore the tax levels to where they were during the late 1990s. 

But that was when the economy was booming, says former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, (R-Douglas County) who spoke at a capitol news conference unveiling the “Save Colorado Jobs” opposition committee.

"Although it’s a worthy cause to say we want to put more money into K through 12, there’s a cost to that and that cost is going to be an impact on our economy," Mitchell said Thursday.

Mitchell’s group released a study produced by a free-market think tank that showed thousands of jobs would be LOST over the five year period if the measure passes. 

The study and its numbers were quickly disputed by State Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder), chief architect of the ballot measure who was standing outside the news conference seemingly chomping at the bit to respond.

"We’ve gone from virtually the best, to the worst, and to think that we can attract jobs which to me is the most critical thing we’re trying to do here, without investing in education, just makes no sense to me at all," Heath said.

Support for Heath’s measure has been slow to get off the ground. Even many in his own party have said that another dedicated funding stream for education could further jeopardize many other essential state programs in the already stressed budget.