Voters may be asked to raise taxes for schools, yet again

10:20 PM, Feb 18, 2012   |    comments
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"Presidential election turnouts tend to be higher than off-year elections," said Dr. Norman Provizer, political science professor at the Metropolitan State College of Denver. "If the view is, you think you can tap into the general sentiment by voters, you want as many voters as possible."

But, what is the general sentiment of voters when it comes to raising property taxes for schools? We ran into a variety of opinions on the 16th Street Mall.

"I have mixed feelings," said Greg Horstman, a Douglas County resident. "I think teachers are highly underpaid and we'd like to see them paid a better level. But, on the other hand, you wonder where it ends."

"I have a 10-month-old son of my own and I wouldn't mind paying the extra tax for him to get the proper education," said William Johnson, a Denver resident.

"The government's not using the money appropriately," said Karen Lipman, a Centennial resident and home schooling parent. "I just really believe that our state isn't using the current money that they have in a very beneficial way."

"I would rather have taxes raised for schools and for education than to have them raised for any other reason," said Candice Ortiz, a Denver resident.

During the 2008 presidential election, 27 school districts around Colorado asked voters to approve a mill levy override, or a bond issue or both. The hope was to capitalize on high voter turnout and about half of the ballot measures passed.

But, Provizer warns that this year may be different especially since two months ago, voters soundly struck down a statewide ballot measure asking for higher taxes for schools.

"The difficulty this time around is the general economic environment," said Provizer. "This is not usually the kind of environment - post-recession, which we still have high unemployment, all those difficulties - in which tax increases have much appeal."

On the 16th Street Mall, everyone agreed that raising tax now is tough.

"Money is hard to come by I will agree with that," said Johnson. "But, at the same time, it's the children. It's the future. It's an investment."

"For all of us homeschoolers, there's no way we could afford to raise taxes especially for something that we're not using," said Lipman.

"I'm a single mom raising these three kids," said Ortiz.

"It does seem that it's a difficult time," said Horstman. "Probably no good time to ask for higher property taxes to help support the schools."

Provizer says the key for school districts looking to pass tax ballot questions in November will be how the economy behaves between now and then.

"If people are feeling things are getting better, then they might be more receptive," said Provizer.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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