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Colorado Initiative 125 (2008)

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Initiative 125, or the Saving Account for Education Initiative, would create a state education fund, to be funded by a .33% tax on federal taxable income of every individual, estate, trust, and corporation, and would require that state educational spending increase by rate of inflation plus 1% through 2012 and at no less than the rate of inflation thereafter.

The very similar Initiative 126 was introduced by the same sponsors, and proponents have chosen to concentrate their efforts on that version. This one would allow the general assembly to appropriate money from the state education fund, but only by a two-thirds vote of both Houses. Initiative 126 would allow the general assembly to appropriate money from the fund only if the state general fund revenues will not be sufficient to maintain the 4% reserve required by law.

This measure is a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment.

The official ballot title reads:

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the manner in which the state funds public education from preschool through the twelfth grade, and, in connection therewith, requiring that any revenue that the state would otherwise be required to refund pursuant to the constitutional limit on state fiscal year spending (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) be transferred instead to the state education fund; eliminating the requirement that, for the 2011-12 state fiscal year and each state fiscal year thereafter, the statewide base per pupil funding for public education from preschool through the twelfth grade and the total state funding for all categorical programs increase annually by at least the rate of inflation; for the 2010-11 state fiscal year and each state fiscal year thereafter, creating a state education fund savings account in the state education fund; requiring that a portion of the state income tax revenue that is deposited in the state education fund be credited to the savings account in certain circumstances; requiring a bill to be passed by a two-thirds majority vote of the general assembly to use the moneys in the savings account; establishing the purposes for which moneys in the savings account may be spent; establishing a maximum amount that may be in the savings account in any state fiscal year; and allowing the general assembly to transfer moneys from the general fund to the state education fund, notwithstanding any limitations on annual general fund appropriations, so long as certain obligations for transportation funding are met.

Supporters

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is the leading proponent of this measure, as well as the very similar Initiative 126, in order to fix problems and conflicts he sees in the state Constitution, between the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) spending requirements and Amendment 23, which protects and boosts education spending. Both initiatives would eliminate the tax refunds from TABOR and would put the money into a state education fund to be used for specific education purposes.

Also supporting the measure are the Colorado Children's Campaign, AARP in Colorado, the Colorado Association of School Boards, and Republican state Attorney General John Suthers.[1]


Opponents

Numerous Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition to the measure, including Douglas Bruce, who helped write TABOR. Bruce said the measure "would mean unlimited state funding forever."[1]


Status

The Title Board set the measure's title, but supporters have chosen to put their efforts behind the other version of this proposal, Initiative 126, on which they are currently circulating petitions.


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