What is Initiative 93: Great Schools, Thriving Communities?

Initiative 93, known as Great Schools, Thriving Communities, is a citizen-led ballot measure to
increase school funding for 900,000 Colorado students.

Supporters are currently gathering the signatures required to put Initiative 93 on the
November ballot.

How would Initiative 93 affect taxes?

If approved by voters in November, Initiative 93 would tax income of $150,000 and up for people
and corporations. The tax would raise $1.6 billion for public schools across the
state.

Initiative 93 “stabilizes the volatile local share of education funding by first lowering property tax rate then freezing the rates, which are third lowest in the nation,” according to Great Education Colorado.

The initiative would not raise taxes for 92 percent of Colorado taxpayers.

Tax rates for income above $150,000 would be affected as follows:

Initiative 93 tax rate graph
Tax rate graph for Initiative 93. Courtesy of Great Schools, Thriving Communities, http://www.greatschoolsthrivingcommunities.org/.
  • Incomes below $150k will not be taxed.
  • Incomes from $150k to $200k would be taxed at .37 percent, an average increase of $81.
  • Incomes from $200k to $300k would be taxed at 1.37 percent.
  • Incomes from $300k to $500k would be taxed at 2.37 percent.
  • Incomes above $500k would be taxed at 3.62 percent.

How will money from Initiative 93 benefit students?

If passed, Initiative 93 would increase base per-pupil funding to $7,300. In addition, it would increase state funding for specific programs, including:

  • $120 million more for special education
  • $10 million more for gifted and talented programs
  • $20 million more for English language proficiency programs
  • $10 million more for preschool
  • increase the statewide base per pupil funding for P-12 public education to $7,300;

Beginning in 2020, those numbers would be adjusted for inflation annually.

The number would also increase the number of at-risk students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

Initiative 93 would also increase funding for kindergarten students. Kindergarten students are currently funded at 0.58 of a full-time student, even if they attend full-day kindergarten. If Initiative 93 passes, kindergarten students would be funded at the same level as students in grades 1 through 12.

Why do schools need more money?

Initiative 93 supporters say the measure will address shortages in school funding. They point to funding losses caused by the Budget Stabilization Factor, formerly known as the negative factor.

The Budget Stabilization Factor is a tool designed by state legislators in 2010 to balance the state budget by taking back money allocated for schools. For the 2017-18 year, it resulted in a loss of $828 million in school funding. That 2017-18 number includes a $76 million loss for Jeffco Schools.

According to a Great Schools, Thriving Communities presentation, Colorado ranks 39th in per-pupil spending and 48th when per-pupil spending is adjusted per $1,000 in income.

In addition, they note that it would take more than $830 million to return Colorado’s per-pupil spending to 2010 levels. One result is that more than half of Colorado school districts now have at least one school that operates on a four-day school week.

Supporters also note that the $1.6 billion that Initiative 93 would raise still would not boost Colorado’s education spending to meet the national average.

How will Initiative 93 affect commercial businesses?

Initiative 93 contains a “Gallagher Fix,” supporters say. It would lower the commercial assessment rate from 29 to 24 percent. Commercial businesses, farmers and ranchers have been locked into a 29 percent non-residential tax rate since 1982.

In comparison, residential tax rates have fallen sharply since 1982. Residential tax rates in 1982 were 21 percent, but have dropped to 7.2 percent in 2018.

The ballot measure restores Gallagher’s original intent to provide balanced residential and commercial support for local government, supporters say.

So what’s next for Initiative 93?

In order to put Initiative 93 on the November ballot, supporters need to gather 98,492 signatures — 2 percent of registered voters in each Senate district — by July. For more information about Initiative 93, visit www.greatschoolsthrivingcommunities.org.

Katie Winner

Katie Winner

Katie Winner has been a productive nuisance in public education and community advocacy ever since arriving in Jeffco from New York in 2014. With a Masters degree in higher education, an MBA, and a professional certificate in college counseling from UCLA, Katie began her service for Jeffco schools by volunteering with her local school accountability committee. Katie enjoys spending time with her husband and kids, playing or watching hockey, exploring the open spaces of Colorado, and getting back to the East Coast as often as she can. Please visit our "About Us" page to learn more about Katie and our other writers.