Cathy Garcia, President of Action 22, a legislative lobbying group representing southeast Colorado counties, met with area residents this past Thursday to discuss the pros and cons of the tax proposal.
A limited gathering of officials including Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner, Baca County Commissioner Peter Dawson, PCDI Board Member Lawrence Brase and Prowers Lodging Tax Panel Member Brad Semmens, was on hand at the office of U.S. Congressman Cory Gardner in Lamar to discuss the tax increase proposal and other matters with Gardner’s representative in southeast Colorado, Doris Morgan. Garcia explained that “103” is a temporary tax increase to benefit public education, and will appear on the November 1 ballot this year. If approved, the proposition will amend the Colorado Tax Statutes to: increase the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 5% for five years, beginning January 1, 2012; will increase the state sales and use tax rate from 2.9% to 3% for the same time frame and require the state legislature to spend those increased funds on public education by increasing funding above the amount in the budget for the year 2011-2012. The measure does not affect local tax rates.
Under Proposition 103, the state will collect $2.9 Billion over five years for public education which includes public pre schools, K-12 grade schools and colleges and universities. After five years, the tax goes away. A breakdown of how the tax would affect residents was offered in three examples of income and marriage status. A single person grossing $35,000 a year would pay an extra $101 in taxes; a single person with children earning a gross income of $70,000 would pay $180 and a married couple filing a joint return with a gross income of $125,000 would pay $315 a year for five years. The Proposition does not offer a guideline of how the additional taxes would be spent in the Colorado pubic school system.
Garcia said there has been little publicity about the Proposition that she has heard, but in her travels through the state, the reaction has been, “about 50-50”, she said. The other trend she has noticed on the Proposition is that there is none! “There’s no real consensus that I’ve encountered,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, how much you earn or your financial status, there’s no one group or population segment that has any strong feelings about it one way or another.” A voter’s guidebook is available through the state website: www. Colorado.gov/cs/bluebookfiscalimpact.
The remainder of the session focused on local economic needs including: jobs development, EPA regulation cutbacks, the current protests on Wall Street for economic reform, the proposed by-pass and highway improvements in southeast Colorado and future funding to help Lamar pay for FEMA mandated levee improvements.
By Russ Baldwin