POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Ought to Colorado enhance marijuana taxes to help training? (copy) | Denver-gazette

POINT: Bob Gardner

This November, Colorado voters have a chance to approve the largest expansion of parenting educational choices in the United States in more than a decade.

Conservatives across Colorado voted YES to Proposition 119 – Names You Trust, like our last Republican Governor Bill Owens, former Treasurer Mark Hillman, Colorado Springs Conservatives Tim Geitner and Bill Cadman, and battle-hardened Conservatives like John Andrews, Janet. of Mesa County Rowland, Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer of Weld, and Frank McNulty of Douglas County.

A notable bipartisan coalition is backing the plan, including former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter, former US Senator Mark Udall, and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and Senator of Colorado Rhonda Fields.

These arch-conservative fiscal conservatives seldom support any tax hike of any kind. But 119 is a tax on the marijuana industry, an industry that a small tax can absolutely afford.

And that’s the real reason so many Conservatives across Colorado are YES to 119.

Proposition 119 provides direct financial assistance to parents to obtain tutoring and other forms of after-school classroom support in core subjects such as reading, writing, and math.

Does your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter have difficulties with math or reading, writing or science? Is your student out of class after a year of closings and quarantines?

Proposition 119 intelligently creates a new independent structure to provide direct financial aid to parents so that they can have the extra one-on-one tuition to meet the needs of their students.

For tens of thousands of children lagging behind due to school closings during COVID, Proposition 119 is a lifeline – it provides families with resources to capture children.

The truth is, too many students have been abandoned in our public schools for years.

A recent study by Colorado Public Radio reveals terrifying colors: “Around 39 percent of third graders in the state read at or above grade, 2.2 percentage points less than in 2019, while in math, 24 percent of sixth graders met or exceeded expectations. .. Students of all races and ethnicities decreased in performance, with black and Hispanic students performing significantly worse than white and Asian students. “

The time for courageous action on behalf of the Colorado parents and children is now. Theorem 119 is this bold act.

A recent study by the Common Sense Institute found that Prop 119 would provide financial aid to fund tutoring for 98,000 children.

The grant program would be administered by an independent council of education experts, not politicians. Some have wondered why we wouldn’t entrust the legislature with the administration of the tuition funds. Trust me when I say we don’t want lawmakers to be in charge of those dollars.

The good news: tons of education advocates from across the political spectrum like Colorado’s Children’s Campaign, Boys and Girls Club, and organizations that support students with special needs like Firefly Autism support Prop 119.

The bad news: Extreme voices on the far left are pushing to defeat Prop. 119.

“(119) is another favorite project of the rich corporate charlatans with their insatiable hunger to profit from taxpayers’ money,” a cynical critic recently argued in the Denver Post. Absurd.

These are the same arguments that the radical left made against charter schools and even the neighborhood school choice.

Fortunately, a broad coalition of Conservatives and Democrats, education leaders, and nonprofit groups see Prop 119 for what it is – an innovative way to help dozens of Colorado children catch up. It gives parents direct resources to give their students the help and support they need.

Because of this, Conservatives across Colorado vote YES to 119. I’m proud to be one of them.

COUNTER: Michael Merrif



What perfect timing for a deceptively disguised wolf-in-sheep clothing suggestion like Proposition 119, the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program (LEAP)!

Proposal 119 isn’t a treat for Colorado’s children, but a bag of tricks to help wealthy, foreign donors and anti-subversive education planners.

Here’s what’s in Proposition 119’s bag of tricks:

1. With millions of dollars from the Schulland Trust and higher taxes on marijuana, LEAP is creating an entirely new government bureaucracy with a budget twice the annual budget of the entire Colorado Department of Education.

2. It steals money from public schools by “redistributing” millions of dollars from the School Land Trust Fund (which was legally established in 1876 to benefit public schools). This means millions of dollars are being withdrawn from schools every year and children they claim help by directing valuable funds to private, for-profit corporations.

According to the Legislative Council’s non-partisan summary, this would cost public schools at least $ 21 million a year.

Claiming to help our students by stealing money from their schools is hideous and scary. The State Land Board unanimously voted against LEAP.

3. It creates an unelected board that is not accountable to anyone but itself. That body would have sole authority to run the money and programs all on its own, with little accountability, oversight, or collaboration with the experts at the Department of Education or any other government agency!

Without government involvement, oversight or accountability, the appointed board of directors would develop its own criteria for selecting providers.

Proposition 119 does not guarantee that vendors will be approved in every part of the state, which means that rural areas probably wouldn’t have one.

Incredibly, the board of directors would be protected from any lawsuit or oversight, which opens the door to fraud, corruption and misuse of public funds.

4. LEAP is advertised as a program for disadvantaged children, but there is no guarantee that these will be the students who will be served. Students only need to be eligible to attend public school.

However, their families have to prove their income for tax purposes, which means that undocumented students are not entitled.

But home-schooled and private students would also be eligible, which makes LEAP a quasi-voucher program. The weakest students are only guaranteed a focus in the first year!

5. There is no protection against any kind of discrimination by the providers.

If voters decide to raise taxes on marijuana sales, the additional funds should go to our desperately underfunded public schools, which are overseen and accountable to the CDE, which has an elected board of directors, the majority of which oppose LEAP.

Other educational groups opposed to LEAP include the Colorado PTA, the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Association of School Executives, the State Land Trust Board, the American Federation of Teachers, and Taxpayers for Public Education.

LEAP is another attempt by the wealthy corporate elite, so-called “education experts” and “reformers”, to take advantage of taxpayers’ money and convince voters that they are the good guys riding to the rescue.

LEAP’s sneaky promoters have done an excellent job disguising this Halloween monster of a proposition. Voters are not fooled! Vote “NO” to Proposition 119. It is a vicious leap!

Republican Senator Bob Gardner represents District 12 in El Paso County.

Michael Merrifield is a retired public school teacher, former Colorado State Representative and Senator, Chairman of the House of Representatives Education Committee, and currently a board member of Advocates for Public Education Policy, a nonprofit founded to protect public education.


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