On the November 5 ballot in Colorado is Amendment 66, a 27 percent state income tax increase that would be enshrined in the state constitution if voters give their approval. Americans for Tax Reform recently highlighted how Amendment 66 poses serious threats to small business; It’s also important for voters to know that Amendment 66 will not achieve its stated goal: to improve the quality of public education in Colorado.
Under the new spending mandates imposed by Amendment 66, 43% of all state sales, excise and income tax revenue must be spent on public education every year. Simply throwing more money at a broken system will not solve anything. A report by the Independence Institute notes that Amendment 66 does not “reform the establishment’s problematic culture, poor staffing policies, outdated work rules, and curricular insufficiency.”
There is much research to suggest that higher levels of education funding do not automatically beget higher levels of student achievement. In 2010 and 2011, the federal government issued $26.6 million in aid to Colorado school districts with the intention of improving poorly functioning schools. However, The Denver Post reported that while spending increased, student achievement actually decreased; perhaps because nearly 40% of the money was spent on consultants. Further expanding a bloated bureaucracy and enriching consultants does nothing to further student achievement.
So what is the answer? The aforementioned report by the Independence Institute notes that reforms which expand school choice have proven successful in raising test scores and education outcomes. Instead of another state tax increase, Colorado legisaltors should instead consider adopting proven education reforms, such as expanding access to charter schools.
Structural reforms that focus on increased instructional time, tutoring, and evaluative practices that use unit tests and frequent quizzes should be considered. Doing so will have a real and measurable impact on student achievement in Colorado. Not only has such an approach proven more effective, it avoids the negative economic consequences that would come from Amendment 66’s massive tax increase on individuals, families, and employers. It’s time for politicians to get serious about improving education and to stop lining their bloated, bureaucratic pockets with taxpayer dollars. Americans for Tax Reform urges Colorado voters to reject Amendment 66.