Colorado Proposition 103: The massive $3 billion tax increase and the fallacy that more money means better education
Many voters will begin casting their ballots in Colorado this week and a seemingly feel-good measure to pour more money into public education, Proposition 103, is one issue to be decided. Despite proponents’ attempts to deceive voters, this is a massive tax increase that would be felt by every family in the state during hard economic times.
The brainchild of Colorado State Senator Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, Proposition 103 would require an increase in not only state income tax but also the state sales tax. Income taxes would rise by a whopping 8% and sales taxes would jump a significant 3.4%.
Over the five year period these tax increases are in effect, the state’s coffers would swell by nearly $3 billion dollars. Families across Colorado who are already struggling to make ends meet would be footing the bill and throwing good money after bad.
Those who support the measure call this a “five-year time out from school cuts.” If you read their mailings or visit their website, you will hardly find the word ‘tax.’ They clearly believe Colorado voters are idiots but supporters’ attempts to disguise the issue are entirely disingenuous.
The wording of the ballot issue clearly says, “Shall state taxes be increased” and “increasing the rate of the state income tax” as well as “increasing the rate of the state sales and use tax.”
Like the rest of the nation, Colorado’s economy is hurting. Failed leadership in Washington DC, policies that do more to harm than help, and a state legislature filled with those bent on installing a nanny state are all to blame. Coloradoans are paying the price.
Proposition 103 seeks to tug at the heart strings though by insisting this is all for the kids. After all, schools have had to tighten their belts and watch their spending just like everyone else but that isn’t fair.
In reality however, little has come from massive increases in education spending in recent decades. Have we seen an increase in student achievement with increased funds? No.
In fact, despite our generosity, students have not reaped the benefits. Unions have. School district administrations have. Parents and students have seen nothing.
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Taking a look at statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) bears this fact out. These are not numbers from the left wing or the right wing – this is from the Department of Education itself.
In 1979 Colorado was spending $6,243 per pupil in our elementary and secondary schools. Today, Colorado spends over $9,200 per pupil when adjusted for inflation. This is a massive 48% increase in education spending.
Have we seen our children receive 48% better education? Have their test scores increased by 48%? Of course they have not.
What about increasing teacher pay? Surely that equates to better outcomes right? Wrong. In 1979 the average teacher salary nationally was $ 47,106 while today it is at $54,819 (adjusted for inflation). That is a 16% increase for little return.
What about putting more teachers in the classroom? In 1979, schools operated on average across the nation with a 19.1 pupil to teacher ratio. Today that is down to 15.8, a 20% increase in teachers. Where is our 20% return?
All of these facts show the fallacy behind the claim that more spending equals better student achievement. Student achievement has remained largely flat over the same periods discussed above so why throw more money at a problem when it does little good?
Of course our public education system needs help, but money is not the solution like Senator Heath, teachers unions and supporters of Proposition 103 would have us believe. Real reform is needed, not more money, and all the deceitful tactics they throw out won’t change that fact.
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