Supporters and opponents fight over how Amendment 66 money would be spent

By Lars Gesing

During the Nov. 5 election, voters all across Colorado will get to decide on — among other things — Amendment 66. Those voting yes on the amendment agree to a statewide income-tax increase that would guarantee the state government an additional $950 million a year to spend on education. But Amendment 66 is, like many other ballot issues, controversial. Here is a roundup of what some media across Colorado wrote over the last couple of days.

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What would Amendment 66 mean for the average Coloradan? The online student newspaper at CU, the CU Independent, asked Colorado Commits to Kids, an advocacy group for Amendment 66. According to the report, the extra cost for an average family in Colorado would be $133 per year. CUI reporter Jordan Mathews writes that while supporters say the new tax dollars would reduce class sizes and would provide students with more individual attention, many hesitate to vote yes because their memory of the recent recession is still fresh, prompting them to question every dollar they spend.

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According to The Denver Post, critics of the bill blame Gov. John Hickenlooper that he wants to use the money to “backfill” the state’s pension system instead of giving the money to those whom it would rightfully belong — students across Colorado. However, proponents of the bill argue that the language in the bill prevents money raised through the amendment be contributed to the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). Post reporter Lynn Bartels quotes Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, the architect of Amendment 66, calling the critique of opponents “their latest Hail Mary pass.” The current debate was sparked when Denver Republican Joshua Sharf headlined a blog post: “Gov. Hickenlooper admits: Districts can use Amendment 66 money for PERA.” Hickenlooper told The Denver Post the headline was “grossly misleading.”

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The Durango Herald recently addressed the allegations that the tax hike would be used to fill PERA’s pockets too. The Herald claims that “nuances are crucial with Amendment 66.” Staff writer Joe Hanel explains that some of the almost $1 billion a year would be spent on improving teachers’ pay, further saying that “retirement contributions are a component of teacher pay, so Colorado’s Public Employees’ Retirement Association stands to receive a portion of each new paycheck.”

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Voters can find a lot of information on all ballot issues on the official website of the City of Boulder.

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