WESTERN SLOPE — Initiative 22, the drive to
raise state income taxes and flush Colorado’s school finance system with new
cash, was stalled late last week when Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler
announced his office "will require a line-by-line review of signatures" on
petitions to determine whether the measure qualifies for the November
ballot.



On Aug. 5, members of the Colorado Commits
to Kids organization delivered 165,706 signatures, twice what was needed, to
Gessler's office to put Initiative 22, known as "Funding for public schools,” a
component of Senate Bill 213, on the fall
ballot.



In a news release this week, the Gessler’s
office said out of a five percent random sample, or 8,286 signatures, only 4,645
were valid and the other 3,641 were
invalid.



Supporters needed a verification rate of
110 percent of the required 86,105 valid signatures to place the initiative
directly on the ballot and avoid a line-by-line review. The sample rate
announced last week was 107.88
percent.



The Secretary of State’s office said a
projected number of valid signatures was 92,892, more than is needed to
qualify.



"The office immediately began verifying a
random sample of the signatures as set forth in the state statute. Section
1-40-116(4), C.R.S. requires the verification of each signature filed if the
random sample shows the number of valid signatures falls between 90 percent and
110 percent of the 86,105 signatures needed," the release
stated.



Initiative 22 would change the state's
current income tax rate of 4.63 percent into a two-tiered system, with all
taxpayers paying 5 percent on the first $75,000 of income, and 5.9 percent on
income beyond $75,000.



Gessler’s office has until Sept. 4 to
complete its review.



SB213, passed through the
Democrat-controlled House of Representatives by a 37-28 party-line vote on April
29, will affect all of Colorado's 178 school
  districts.



Initiative 22 would create a new formula to
determine state and local funding shares, taking into account differences in
median income, property values, free and reduced lunch programs and the number
of at-risk students within districts. Money for special education would also be
channeled into the districts which mainly pay for those
programs.



Montrose County School District RE-1J
Superintendent Mark MacHale estimated RE-1J will receive about $4.2 million if
the measure passes in November, nearly half the amount the district has cut in
recent years.



The money would go to fund full-day
kindergarten and half-day preschool, as well as at-risk students and
English-language learners. All new revenue generated would be placed in a new
state Education Achievement Fund, earmarked for preschool and K-12
students.



If Initiative 22 fails in November, it
would not invalidate the existence of SB213. The bill, now law, can only be
implemented if funding is raised. 





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