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Denver voters increase sales tax for student scholarships

Next year when people go shopping and buy something in Denver, sales tax will go up by .08 percent.

DENVER — Though the election seems long ago, on Tuesday night, Denver's Ordinance 300 officially passed. Lorii Rabinowitz, CEO of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, calls it a landmark decision.

"Absolutely, 300 is important for a number of reasons, one it's the first of its kind in the country," Rabinowitz said.

Next year when people go shopping and buy something in Denver, sales tax will go up by .08 percent.

"I don't even think folks will notice it honestly," Rabinowitz said. "It's less than a cent on a $10 purchase."

But, that increase will create a yearly scholarship fund of $14 million. A committee will oversee the money and make those funds available to nonprofit groups who give Denver students scholarships, like the Denver Scholarship Foundation.

"We award scholarships. We invest in our students up front and as students demonstrate success, we then have the opportunity to apply for reimbursement," Rabinowitz said.

If students show they're on their way graduation or completion, nonprofits can back up to 75 percent, allowing for even more help from big groups like DSF and small ones.

"And, they said, we give one scholarship now and this will allow us to give two," Rabinowitz said.

It will be supported by anyone buying items in Denver like tourists going to conventions or attending games like the Rockies or Broncos.

"We would take those dollars, again, as I know the other organizations will as well, to scale and support that many more students," Rabinowitz said.

All from a tax increase that no one has ever passed before.

"The opportunity to invest in the future of our community, that's how we really see it," Rabinowitz said.