STATE SEN. RHONDA FIELDS: Let’s start fixing things with Prop CC

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In almost every measurable way, Colorado’s investments in education and transportation are some of the worst in the country. We have some of the most poorly rated bridges and roads of any state. We have the largest teacher pay gap, spend less per K-12 student than even some of the poorest states like Alabama and Louisiana, and our in-state college tuition is some of the highest in the country and rising.

Why? There’s an arbitrary budget formula in Colorado’s constitution that forces the state to issue temporary rebates when the economy is booming, instead of investing this money where Coloradans want.

Not being able to invest this money the state already collects from things like tourism revenue and corporate profits is a big part of the reason our beautiful city and county of Aurora and Arapahoe can’t keep up with growth (see: traffic, crumbling roads, transit delays, underperforming schools).

Prop CC is asking to forego these small, individual rebates (averaging $22-$47) based on a 30-year old law so we can invest hundreds of millions of dollars in: K-12, higher ed, transportation. This rebate doesn’t affect your tax refunds from overpaying your taxes. The Koch Brother Organization is playing dirty and trying to sew confusion, but we’re smarter than that. This is a TABOR rebate unique to Colorado that only occurs when the economy is doing well. 49 other states can invest their tax dollars in basic infrastructure, like roads, bridges and schools, which is why almost all of them have better roads, bridges and schools. We’re just asking to do the same. It’s a simple formula and a simple ballot question.

I’ve been fighting my whole life for better schools and access to higher education, training and trades. Prop CC is a straight line to increasing access and lowering tuition with no new taxes. That last part is important — no new taxes. Coloradans have told us time and again they want better schools and roads but don’t want to raise taxes. This ballot measure does just that.

Prop CC also contains the strongest transparency and accountability of any Colorado ballot measure ever — via an annual third-party, independent audit to show the public where every dollar goes.

I feel the need to say it again because of the blatant lying on the other side: none of this is a tax increase. It does not affect your tax refunds. What it does is exactly what leaders from both parties have asked: to operate within the constitution and invest with the money the state already has.

The rebate is gone when we hit the next recession, so we’ve got this one shot! Let’s take these temporary rebates and invest in the long term health of our schools and our state.

Vote yes on Prop CC.

Rhonda Fields is state senator for District 29 in Aurora and Arapahoe County