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Sorry, Sen. Heath, we can’t afford to “bite that elephant”

Posted by Kelly Maher on October 7th, 2011
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Colorado state Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, is making some astounding claims in touting Proposition 103, which would raise taxes in Colorado some $2.9 billion over the next five years, purportedly to fund education.

“It’s putting a Band-Aid on the wound to stop the bleeding,” he told the Coloradoan, adding that it buys time to fix structural funding for schools.

“How do you eat an elephant?” Heath said. “One bite at a time. This is a chance to bite that elephant.”

What is the bleeding elephant - to mix a metaphor - that Heath refers to?

EdNewsColorado reports that Gov. John Hickenlooper may “propose a K-12 funding cut of $200 million to $300 million when he makes his 2012-13 budget proposal on Nov. 1,” which follows $160 million cut in the current fiscal year.

And what funding base is that cut coming from?

For the 2011-12 fiscal year, “appropriations to K-12 education comprise the largest share of the state’s general fund (45.6%). In all, the state [was] slated to appropriate $4.339 billion for K-12 education, down from $4.726 billion in 2009-10,” wrote the authors of the Citizens’ Budget, published in November 2010.

Furthermore, the “annual amount of real state-appropriated dollars per pupil rose by 72.6 percent from 1984-85 to 2009-10,” the report noted.

So, yes, K-12 in Colorado faces hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts - off a $4 billion-plus state funding base. Just like Colorado workers who enjoyed a 3.9 percent unemployment rate four years ago now face a much steeper 8.5 percent rate. Tough times all over.

It’s a point that Victor Mitchell, former Colorado state legislator and businessman, made at the Sept. 15 press conference announcing SaveColoradoJobs.org in opposition to Prop. 103.

It’s not just the unemployment rate - but the underemployment and wage reduction that go with it - that make the Prop. 103 tax hike a terrible idea. Colorado families are hurting, which is exactly the wrong time to seek a tax increase.

“It’s not just the unemployment is very high, but the people that are taking jobs now are often working for less money than they were a few years ago,” said Mitchell. “People are strapped right now. We cannot afford $3 billion taken out of the private sector and moved into government. We just can’t afford it.”

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  • Post by Kelly Maher on October 7th, 2011

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