October 23, 2013
The business group Colorado Concern has joined opponents of Amendment 66, the $950 million statewide tax increase to fund schools on the November ballot, citing the threat of a union challenge to teacher tenure and evaluation reforms that the measure would support.
The alliance of top Colorado business executives had previously been neutral on the measure.
In a letter to members, President and CEO Tamra Ward noted “Colorado Concern’s distress when we learned the Colorado Education Association (CEA) was poised to sue the state of Colorado — post election — over the constitutionality of the tenure provisions of SB-191, the Great Teachers and Leaders bill that is the foundation of K-12 reform in our state and a major recipient of funding through the ballot measure before voters this November.”
The CEA is a labor union for teachers and school support staff. It and its parent group, the National Education Association, have each donated $2 million in support of Amendment 66.
“To us, asking for nearly $1 billion dollars annually on the one hand — as the CEA is doing as a proponent of Amendment 66 — when you plan to file a lawsuit over components of the very measure you are seeking to fund — felt disingenuous at best,” Ward said. “Additionally, ensuring that the decision to litigate occurred after the election lacked the transparency we believe voters deserve.”
Ward also noted that her group “is firmly on the record regarding our opposition to a graduated income tax, making support of the ballot measure unlikely at best.”
But even so, Ward said that Colorado Concern seriously considered staying neutral until the CEA signaled its intentions.