Tax hike for education funding in voters' hands

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) Amendment 66 is a ballot measure proposing to change the current system for public education funding. Specifically, the funding formula for each school district.

Senator Mike Johnston, who represents Senate District 33 in Northeast Denver, says the new funding formula, will increase the per pupil funding in Mesa County by $830 and $23,169,759 for the Western Slope as a whole.

"The average tax payer pays about $133 a year, so it's a pretty big next benefit for a lot of our rural districts," said Senator Johnston.

Senator Johnston wrote Senate Bill 213, which reforms the way we finance schools. If Amendment 66 passes, Senate Bill 213 will replace the current funding formula. Johnston says the new formula will even the playing field between districts when it comes to funding.

"The formula always has different amounts, district by district, the benefit of this new formula is, it actually narrows the gap between the districts and the formula," says Senator Johnston.

According to the 2013 State Ballot Information Booklet, Amendment 66 will trigger Johnston's Senate Bill 213 funding formula, which places more emphasis on academic at risk students, students in the free or discounted lunch program or English language learners. 45% of District 51 students fall into these categories.

As far as District 51 goes, the school board isn't taking a stance on the amendment and they are still working on understanding all of the details.

"We do stand to gain about 23 million dollars, but we're still looking at where is that gonna go, what are those strings tied to that money, what does that mean if money is tied to the kids and what does that look like for us," said District 51 Spokesperson, Christy McGee.

Amendment 66 will raise individual income tax rates from 4.63% to 5.0% on the first $75,000 of state taxable income and to 5.9% on any taxable income about $75,000.

If Amendment 66 passes, it will go into effect for the 2014 tax year. In addition, the funds collected from the tax increase won't impact schools until the 2015-2016 school year.

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