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Fix TABOR, protect schools

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:

In a recent letter to Governor Owens, the Colorado Farm Bureau called for cuts in K-12 education funding to balance the state budget. Expressing concern about Colorado’s looming budget deficit and the need to maintain services that support Colorado’s agriculture industry, the Farm Bureau contends that we cannot keep K-12 education at current funding levels.

We agree it is critical to maintain services to support agriculture. However we do not agree that Colorado should cut K-12 funding to accomplish this. Colorado has larger than average class sizes, outdated classroom materials and school buildings in need of critical repairs. Parents, teachers and students know that our classrooms are under-funded, yet the Farm Bureau proposes we remove the requirement that K-12 funding keep pace with inflation. This would allow for tens of millions of dollars to be cut from schools in rural communities.

The alternative is to fix Colorado’s TABOR amendment. Currently TABOR does not allow state and local governments (including school districts) to keep the revenues they bring in under already reduced tax rates. Colorado must return more than $2 billion to taxpayers over the next five years, before it restores cuts in services and while it makes even more cuts in services, including those that benefit agriculture.

The Colorado Children’s Campaign believes in protecting taxpayers. We support the right to vote on taxes and agree we should limit the size of government. But we do not believe further cuts in K-12 funding will benefit Colorado’s economy. The Farm Bureau is right that we have a budget crisis, but shortchanging our schools is a cure worse than the disease.

Cary Kennedy

The Colorado Children’s Campaign

Denver


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