Right-wing extremists in Colorado would love to see public education fully defunded so they could force families to send their money to private corporations instead. Are they truly concerned about the state of education? Of course not. Like every other policy issue, they’re much more interested in tranferring the middle class’ wealth (what remains of it) toward amoral, unaccountable entities that have more rights than people.
Heading up this year’s public-vs-private entity battle will be Proposition 101, one of three potential ballot initiatives that will show up this November 2nd. In a nutshell, Prop 101 would cut income taxes 0.1 percent a year until the rate was 3.5 percent – down from the current 4.63 percent – and reduce ownership taxes on used vehicles to $1 and to $2 for new vehicles. It would also repeal FASTER, enacted last year to begin work on billions of dollars worth of failing roads and bridges. How does that relate to education? Every school district in the state gets a share of those taxes.
The Bell Policy Center’s analysis has just begun, with only 6 counties’ done so far. What they’ve seen in those 6 counties makes it clear that the right wing’s goal of destroying public education would be achieved all too easily.
Funding per student in Denver, for example, would fall off a cliff: from $434 to $6.08! Yes, I have placed the decimal point correctly. How could Denver’s schools function if funding was slashed to 1/100th of today’s funding? The answer is quite simple: they couldn’t.
How about Mesa County? Their funding per student would fall from $490 per student to $6.87.
Alamosa County would see ownership taxes fall from $1.18 million per year to $18,891 per year. Their license fees would drop from $1.17 million (2009; $800,000 2008) to $183,910. Their school funding would be slashed by $250 per student.
Early discussion about Prop 101 (Amendments 60 and 61 too) has revolved around lack of transparency regarding fundraising for the initiatives. If over $200 is spent on an initiative, state law requires registration with the Secretary of State’s office. Protect Colorado’s Communities has filed a complaint against the initiatives for failing to do so, despite spending money on 1,600 pages on which to collect petition signatures.
You can bet that the hateful Douglas Bruce is somehow connected to these initiatives. His fingerprints have been all over every attempt to drown Colorado’s government in a bathtub for years. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette:
Opponents allege Colorado Springs’ anti-tax advocate Douglas Bruce is one of the backers of the initiatives, but he has said he knows nothing about them. Freda Poundstone, who authored a famous amendment in the 1970s that kept the city and county of Denver from annexing land in nearby counties without a vote, is listed on papers connected with Proposition 101.
Bruce’s reputation has finally taken some hits in recent years as his involvement in Colorado’s budget crisis has come to public light. I’m not surprised the Prop 101 and A60/A61 backers don’t want to disclose who’s funding their early efforts. They’re all unpatriotic cowards.
Colorado is at a crossroads this year. We can continue to undo the damage that Bruce and his acolytes have caused to the state by overwhelmingly voting against Prop 101, A60 and A61. Or, we can decide to finish the job he started.