Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sidebar newsletter: After the election, Colorado still needs more revenue

An article from the winter 2012 edition of Sidebar, CCLP's quarterly newsletter.

The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, a project of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, was a leading proponent of Proposition 103 on the state’s Nov. 1 election ballot. It would have restored state sales and income tax rates to their levels in the late 1990s and used the revenue to support education. In an audio interview, Fiscal Policy Institute Director Carol Hedges discusses the reasons Proposition 103 failed, lessons learned from the effort, and where Colorado goes from here. Excerpts of Hedges’ remarks follow. To listen to the full interview, visit bit.ly/chinterview.

“The primary message I take away from the results of 103 is that it is much harder to build a coalition of people to vote in favor of something than it is to build a coalition to vote against something. We know that there were a lot of concerns about the actual specific measure itself that caused many people to decide to vote against more funding for schools. Not because they don’t support funding for schools, but there were people that were concerned about whether it was the right mechanism, whether we were taxing the right people, whether it was big enough, whether it addressed enough of the comprehensive fiscal problems that the state is facing.”

“We moved the conversation on a balanced approach to dealing with the state’s fiscal problems, we moved that forward in a meaningful way. 103 was an important next step in the work that CCLP and COFPI have been doing over the last 10 years to start and to keep a conversation alive about the role of the public sector in building strong communities and a strong economy. … People are beginning to sense the real costs of not making appropriate investments. They see what’s happening in their communities because our schools and other public services aren’t funded.”

“One of the other interesting and important things about 103 is it allowed us to create contacts and relationships and identify literally thousands of people statewide who understand the importance of public education, understand the importance of public investments in having a vital and strong economy. We’ve got to keep talking to those people. We’ve got to help them with tools to be the advocates in their communities, to say ‘Yes, taxes mean that each of us pay a little bit more, but think about the benefits for our communities.’”

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