One step forward, two steps back: Amendment 64 and 66


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

   I found Amendment 64 , a choice on last year’s November ballot, ironic. For those who do not recall Amendment 64 was the legalization of growing, using recreationally (over the age of 21) and selling marijuana. It is ironic that many educators voted yes on this reform considering it is legalizing a drug abused by many teenagers. Along with the legalization of marijuana this amendment grants the first 40 million dollars in taxes, made off sales tax, to the public school capital construction assistance fund–the fund that repairs or build schools. On the most recent ballot voters also had the choice of proposition AA, which would increase the wholesale tax of marijuana to 15%. It is absurd that this is how many schools will be getting money to make necessary repairs.

   In the same election an amendment that The Denver Post calls a “$950 million tax hike” was defeated. Amendment 66 was an income tax increase; Colorado Commits says that the amendment would create smaller class sizes, therefore giving students more one-on-one time to work with the teachers. It would accomplish this by making it possible for schools to hire more teachers. Colorado Commits also states that the amendment “ensures that new money is used only for education reforms or enhancements to existing programs.” Colorado residents were fast to pass the laws that would not cost them extra but were not willing to pass the law that would increase  taxes.  There is some irony in that they would rather legalize marijuana, possibly making it more accessible, than pay higher taxes in order to support their school district.

    Commenting on the Colorado amendments,  Niraj Chokshi from the Washington Post states, “A large chunk of revenues generated — estimated at $950 million in its first full year of implementation — would have been dedicated to public education.” This amendment, unlike the amendment 64, puts the money towards education not just school structure.

   But the measure would cost taxpayers a sizable amount.  7News explains,  “The measure would have raised income taxes from 4.63 percent to 5 percent for taxable income up to $75,000 a year. That is equivalent to $472.5 if you earn exactly $75,000 in taxable income per year. Income above $75,000 would have been taxed at 5.9 percent.”  However, Colorado residents made it clear that they were not willing to pay extra taxes to reach the goals that the amendment proposed. According to FOX 31, Amendment 66 was losing with 66 percent of voters opposed when 1.2 million votes were counted. On the other hand, Chokshi states that Proposition AA (the tax increase on marijuana) was approved with a 65 percent support. Voters supported Amendment 64 by almost the same amount of those that opposed amendment 66.

   The fact that Colorado voters are willing to approve a tax increase on marijuana but not pay higher taxes, in order to support their states schools make me wonder what else Colorado voters have in store for the future.