DENVER — The Denver Public Schools teachers strike has reinvigorated an ongoing conversation about education funding in Colorado and Denver.
Take this question from Jeremiah Luttrell, for example:
Next Question: “Why is the news only focused on the talks between [Denver Public Schools] and the [Denver Classroom Teachers Assocation] and negotiations to increase teacher pay? Is the real story here that Denver, and Colorado, constantly vote against funding education, (ex. past ballot measures) to increase funding and amend the TABOR law?”
Jeremiah is correct about Colorado voters. They’ve rejected ballot initiatives to increase education funding three times in the last 10 years, in 2011, 2013 and most recently in 2018.
But Denver voters consistently open their wallets to support DPS. We counted six initiatives voters have approved since 2005:
- The first is at the center of the debate in the ongoing teacher strike: Pro Comp, a bonus system for teachers. Sixty-three percent of Denver voters approved a property tax increase for Pro Comp back then.
- In 2008, voters approved a bond measure. In 2012, they approved both a bond measure and a mill levy.
- In 2016, they approved both a bond measure and a mill levy again.
Each time voters were asked to vote on an issue for Denver schools in that time, they approved the measure by nearly a two-thirds majority.
Of course, the TABOR Jeremiah referred to is the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which Colorado adopted in 1992. The tax rule dictates that voters approve higher taxes before they're implemented. Former-Gov. John Hickenlooper asked the Supreme Court to review the law before his term ran out late last year. The court declined.
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