People hand out “I voted” stickers for voters who dropped off ballots at the drive-up drop off box outside the El Paso County Clerk’s Office on Nov. 2, 2021. (Julia Fennell/Colorado Newsline)
Coloradans want exceptional public schools, thriving communities and the ability to earn a good living, regardless of where we live or the color of our skin. We know that when we all pitch in together, we can make Colorado a state with world-class schools, affordable health care, and the community services our families need.
The recent election was another example of how voters are on to special interests and corporate greed trying to rig the system — including our tax code — to benefit themselves. Large corporations and the ultrawealthy put initiatives on the statewide ballot to slash funding for things we value, like public education, reliable emergency response and an economy that works for all of us. Proposition 120 and Amendment 78 would have moved Colorado in exactly the wrong direction from realizing our vision of Colorado as the best place to live, work and raise a family.
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Coloradans see that many students already aren’t getting the education they deserve due to a lack of adequate funding. Teachers and support staff don’t have what they need to be effective — they’re overwhelmed with excessive class sizes, outdated textbooks, and paychecks that often don’t even pay the bills. Certain politicians and wealthy special interests diverted money away from public schools for years, creating more than a half a billion dollar deficit in public education funding. Proposition 120 would have siphoned already inadequate resources away from the schools and educators that are struggling to do their best with so little.
We all count on our first responders to protect our families, homes, workplaces and property but, like public education, our locally-funded emergency system is stretched thin. For example, increasing floods in northern Colorado have devastated numerous mobile home communities where most of the residents are Latino families. Cities like Longmont, Greeley and Evans have already struggled in the past to provide support to flooded communities and Amendment 78 would have reduced local government’s ability to fund the critical infrastructure needed to respond safely to emergencies like floods and fires.
Defeating Proposition 120, Colorado voters confirmed that all our students, no matter their zip code, deserve well-resourced schools, with up-to-date materials and strategies, healthy meals and after-school programs to help students make a meaningful living and fulfill their dreams. And every Colorado resident should receive timely and professional help during an emergency, whether it’s a fire, car accident or natural disaster.
Thanks to voter rejection of Amendment 78 , getting critical funding during a wildfire, public health or another crisis will not be slowed down by requiring layers of approval. Coloradans recognized that schools, local governments, businesses and all of us navigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic don’t need delays on moving relief funds to the communities desperately trying to recover.
No matter our differences, we all pretty much want the same things. Coloradans — whether we are Black, brown or white … low, middle or higher income … suburban, rural or urban — must come together to build a stable and fair Colorado tax system so that it works for the many, not the few. There is no time to waste so our vision becomes the reality:
- Exceptional public schools for students in every single neighborhood
- Safety and security across the state, in every zip code
- An economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few
It’s clear that Coloradans want a tax system that is stable, fair, and works for the many, not the few. When we combine our ingenuity and drive to ensure everyone contributes, we can continue to make Colorado a place where all of us can thrive.
Amie Baca-Oehlert and Carmen Medrano co-chair Together We Thrive, a coalition committed to a fair and equitable Colorado tax code. Its members include Colorado Education Association, United for a New Economy, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Colorado People’s Action, Colorado Working Families Party, Great Education Colorado, SEIU/Colorado WINS, The Bell Policy Center and Together Colorado.
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