Proposition 103's Rollie Heath thinks education tax vote will be very close

Thumbnail image for rollie heath.jpg
Rollie Heath.
Tomorrow, voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition 103, which would hike taxes to raise money for schools.

Senator Rollie Heath, the measure's most familiar proponent, is unwilling to predict victory. But he believes the vote will be "very, very close" -- and he's optimistic about the measure's chances based on conversations he's had with voters statewide.

"This has gotten further than I ever would have dreamed as far as the momentum behind it," Heath says. "And I'm hearing good things wherever I go."

Of course, "what else are people going to say to me?" he concedes, laughing.

As originally explained on the campaign's website, the measure would raise Colorado sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent, and its personal and corporate tax from 4.63 percent to 5 percent -- rates that would remain in place for five years. The site says these numbers correspond to tax levels "throughout the economic boom of the 1990s."

Proposition 103 would generate an estimated $536 million per annum toward public education funding, with the cost for a taxpayer making $55,700 being around $150 a year, according to the site.

A tax increase during an economic downturn is a tough sell -- but Heath's baby has still managed to earn a lot of love. He points to a long list of endorsements from school boards and like institutions, as well as positive editorials by a wide range of newspapers, including the Aspen Daily News, the Northern Colorado Business Report, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Boulder Daily Camera and more.

The support from smaller communities, many of which tend to be politically conservative, doesn't surprise Heath. "It's not a matter of principle," he says. "They need the money -- and I think more and more people realize that's the case. Particularly in outlying areas, you've got schools that are only in session four days a week, and they're really hurting.

"I think we'll get a lot of support in the plains and in the west," he continues. "They recognize what a difference this will make for their schools, because a lot of communities can't do mill-levy overrides. And frankly, it doesn't matter if you can, because two-thirds of the funding comes from the state, and nobody can pass enough mill levy overrides to make up the difference. Everybody is hurting. The only difference is the degree to which they're hurting."

With that in mind, Heath posits that the 103 results "won't break down purely along Republican and Democratic lines. In this particular case, I don't think you can look at the voting profile of different areas and say, 'This doesn't have a chance' the way you can with some candidates. I would expect the map on election night will look a lot different than it would in a U.S. Senate or governor's race, where party affiliation means much more. I think parents, regardless of party affiliation, will have a high tendency to vote for this. That's why this is so hard to predict."

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Bchambers8888
Bchambers8888

Heath's measure is crippling to an already strapped constinuency; it was folly!  The funding measure had NOTHING to do with schools or education, but was a push by liberals to spend where this is no compunction to do so.  Put your playtoys to bed; 2012 will see the defeat of any similar measures.

Eric
Eric

Whether 103 passes or not, it's  a benchmark for reason and common sense, and finally a counter strike to the assinine teabag cultural bullying of the last 3 years.

Yeah, it's expensive to educate our kids. And no, Jim Powers, not everybody is a delusional idealogue like you that thinks home schooling is a viable alternative to formal education. (All while this phony's running for Jefco school board..............go figure on that one.)

This "I got mine, you go screw yourself" mentality, championed by the wealthiest and the uninformed, as well as the intellectually lazy and dishonest, has to be overcome.

Prop 103 is the tip of the spear.

Good on you Rollie. 

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Any measure which proposes to raise a regressive tax in order to give Colorado's incompetent school administrators more money is very far from "a benchmark for reason and common sense"!  The disaster in public education is caused by a mass delusion that schools can make up for what parents do not -- actually, that delusion has been superceded by an even more preposterous one; that schools can compensate for students' apathy.  While the Obama administration emphasizes the abilities of superior teachers, reality is that the administration of public schools has imperilled public education by dumbing down curricula, by multiplying assessments while simultaneously undermining their integrity, and, in the end, by failing to impart the education supposed to be represented by a high school diploma (and in some significant number of instances, certifying as high school graduates students lacking even ninth grade skills).  When a third of Colorado graduates who go on to college must enroll in remedial coursework, the problem of low competence rates at Colorado high schools should dominate all discussion of public education, but instead the populace seem ruminantly content to keep on being told that we are working for higher graduation rates.  For my part, I believe it is essential to the future of public education in Colorado that high school graduation rates immediately be cut in half, because, at present, most of the diplomas granted in Colorado are not worth the paper on which they are printed.

We need to institute statewide educational standards and prevent school districts from circumventing them.  When Colorado schools can report successful attainment of ninth and twelfth-grade skills in mathematics and English for their students with any accuracy, they will have gone a long way to re-establishing their integrity.  Students who do not meet (rational) standards of comportment and attainment need to engage in other forms of socialization and learning, e.g. more vocational programs which nonetheless afford access to academic advancement.  Unless schools return to their primary mission of educating those willing and able to be educated, they will continue to lose respect, and unless we implement alternative means of socialization, incarceration will soon become our chief industry.

Allow those without credentials in education to teach.  Propose measures which hire more teachers, strictly limit administrative costs, and return traditional school administration (administrators are senior teachers).  Propose to fund them with a graduated tax on income and/or property.  I support teachers and I support public education, but I am not persuaded that Proposition 103 would have any bearing on the most serious problems facing either.

Eric
Eric

You've got a couple of good points, but the pontificating isn't necessary.

You don't throw the baby out with the bath water, and you're smart enough to know that.

Public education's being starved..............to the end that the private education complex can take over, funded by the last great bonanza, our tax dollars. A windfall for a few, a shitty education for our kids.

103 isn't perfect, but we need it.........................now.

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