$950 million Colorado school finance measure officially on ballot
It’s official: The proposed school finance restructuring known as Initiative 22 will appear on the November ballot, now under the title Amendment 66.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced Wednesday that the initiative, which would raise $950 million in additional taxes for education, had passed the threshold of valid signatures required to bring the measure before voters.
Proponents had been confident all along that they had more than enough signatures after delivering almost double the 86,105 required. A random sample analyzed by Gessler’s office came up just short of the verification rate necessary to put the initiative directly on the ballot, although it projected that supporters would have the requisite valid signatures.
That triggered a line-by-line analysis that pushed the approval process all the way to the Wednesday legal deadline for the secretary of state to make his determination.
Gessler ruled that of 165,710 signatures submitted, 89,820 were valid. He rejected 75,890.
Despite the administrative delay, proponents have been moving ahead to promote Amendment 66, which would create a two-tiered state income tax and also change the way the state delivers funding to individual districts.
It also would pour nearly $1 billion into public schools for programs such as expanded full-day kindergarten and half-day preschool, while also targeting money for at-risk students and English-language learners.
The revisions passed the legislature as Senate Bill 213, but the law won’t go into effect unless voters approve the accompanying tax increase.
“We’re happy to have qualified and eager to continue,” said Curtis Hubbard, spokesman for Colorado Commits to Kids, the group spearheading the campaign. “We’re meeting with groups all over the state, sharing information about what Amendment 66 will do and why we need their support.”
Colorado Commits to Kids raised more than $500,000 in the August campaign finance reporting cycle, bringing the group’s total cash contributions to more than $1.5 million.
The effort once again received large contributions from the Colorado Education Association, which gave $200,000, and medical equipment heiress Pat Stryker , who gave $150,000, while California-based Kaiser Permanente Financial Services pitched in $100,000.
The CEA and Stryker have accounted for nearly $1 million of the total cash contributions. Much of the early funding financed the signature-collection effort to get the initiative onto the November ballot.
Opposition groups so far have raised little money.
Coloradans for Real School Reform reported no contributions, while Coloradans Against Unions Using Kids As Pawns raised $2,025, almost all of it from the tax reform group Colorado At Its Best.