Endorsement: Proposition CC is fatally flawed; lawmakers should try again
PUBLISHED: October 3, 2019 at 3:02 pm | UPDATED: October 6, 2019 at 5:35 pm
Editor’s note: This represents the opinion of The Denver Post editorial board, which is separate from the paper’s news operation.
Colorado lawmakers can do better than Proposition CC. We recommend voters mark “no” on their ballots when they arrive in the mail next week and send this complex problem back to the General Assembly for another try.
The ballot question would allow the state, forevermore, to retain and spend revenue above the arbitrary cap set by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. If the ballot measure fails, that money will be returned to taxpayers through a temporary reduction in the state’s income tax rate, which is at 4.63%.
According to the September revenue forecast, which could still change, those refunds are anticipated to be $274.1 million in the fiscal year 2018-19; $186 million in fiscal year 2019-20; and $383 million in fiscal year 2020-21. That money could do great things for this state if voters say yes to Proposition CC. However, we only get one shot at spending these dollars, and lawmakers simply missed the mark, especially given that this is going to be the plan for these dollars for the foreseeable future.
For example, a third of the funding will go to public schools, which sounds great. But the money does not go through the normal education funding formula. Instead, the money will be doled out to school districts on a per-pupil basis, equally across all districts. That may sound fair, but it isn’t. Other state funding for schools is adjusted according to the financial needs of a district — school districts with large local tax bases and strong local revenue sources get less from the state than districts that might lack commercial or industrial taxpayers or that have depressed housing values
Creating an ever-growing fund of money that is outside the formula will only increase existing disparities. As the funds set aside through Proposition CC grow, so will the distance between school districts that have resources and those that do not. That might be fine for roughly $90 million in 2020 but, barring a recession, it’ll grow year over year, until it’s $500 million and then $1 billion.