Colorado Coalition Proposes Marijuana Tax Hike to Fund Educational Programs

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COLORADO SPRINGS – A Colorado coalition is hoping to secure a proposal in the November ballot that would increase taxes on recreational marijuana to fund tutoring, after-school and mental health programs.

Learning Opportunities for Colorado Children is the spearhead of Learning Enrichment and Academic Advancement Program (LEAP) or Initiative 25 to help children compensate for learning losses associated with the pandemic and meet the needs of disadvantaged students. The measure would require voters to increase the five percent excise tax on recreational marijuana, which would raise about $ 137 million per year for educational programs. He would also create the Colorado Learning Authority within the state’s education department to oversee them.

“I think this is one of the most innovative ideas that I have seen in a long time. I am really delighted to see the bipartisan support it generates statewide,” said Luke Ragland, president of Colorado Loan.

He says the organization supports the poll’s initiative, and it’s a new type of proposal the state hasn’t seen in a while.

“It’s not enough to put children on the same path as before the pandemic. We actually need to help make children healthy and give them extra support to get them to where they were before the pandemic. The pandemic had a different impact on everyone and had an impact on communities. differently, so I think LEAP, which is based on parent choice and parenting, is something that could go a long way in helping kids catch up, ”said Ragland.

While this is a fairly new proposal, he says it does a good job of creating accountability for how the funds will be spent.

“I think it creates a specificity in terms of making sure that the money is properly managed, managed and used well,” said Ragland. “When Colorado legalized marijuana, I think the deal they made in their minds was that the revenue from the marijuana would be used to support educational initiatives. I think the LEAP initiative fits perfectly with the idea. lineage of the constitutional amendment the Coloradans passed to legalize marijuana. “

“The initiative is dishonest in its presentation. They start by saying it’s for every child, and then you don’t have to go far enough when they start discriminating against certain children and / or families. every time you lie on the first page then there is clearly something wrong. Second, it creates a bureaucracy and we have a lot of bureaucracy and then it creates it within the Ministry of Education. He already manages multibillion dollar budgets and it all just creates another, a group that is not accountable to voters. Third, it uses syntax, so what it does is discriminate between marijuana users, ”said Colorado Springs parent Jeff Kemp.

Kemp says this is another opportunity for the government to become more integrated into daily life and to pursue choice. He says the language of the initiative is not very clear on how the educational programs will be implemented.

“None of the programs of the initiative are defined. It just says it will help with the interventions, does not say what the interventions are and does not detail the programs. It says that the decision makers will be the decision makers and it There has to be certification of the people who can do it. None of this is set in stone, not even closed. It just says we’ll have programs. It doesn’t say how partnerships are to happen, so everything what you need is another bureaucracy or government program that agrees to join and since the requirements are not decided by the voters they can change the qualifications as they see fit. ‘money for something that has nothing to do with education,’ Kemp said.

He says the LEAP program could benefit children who access it, but they already exist.

“Maybe they’re not codified under one umbrella, but it’s under the CDE. I mean you can do all of these things, but the education budget is not the place for it. do all of these things. If you want to access counseling services, go to the counseling professionals. Do it this way to keep it clean, more efficient, and not cause mission drift with the people who provide an education, ”Kemp said.

Initially, the Colorado Education Association supported Initiative 25, but recently withdrew its support. They are now neutral to measure.

“Throughout the pandemic, educators have been nothing short of heroic in their efforts to ensure that students have what they need to be successful, despite all the obstacles that stand in their way. Unfortunately, despite these heroic efforts, some students need extra support to help them keep up with their classes.

“Initiative # 25 creates the LEAP program which could help students outside of normal school hours with additional educational services such as after-school tutoring, summer science camps and additional support at school. special education to help students succeed in their classes. This program is for students from low-income families who need it the most and who often cannot access additional services due to cost barriers.

“LEAP is structured to value educators and districts as pre-certified providers of additional services and input into decisions made by the new statewide board of directors. The structure is a service provider model where families can choose services from a variety of certified providers, but all financial support goes directly to the provider. ACE initially supported Initiative # 25 and appreciates outreach from proponents to help develop this measure, but as with any new program, there are general concerns and uncertainties about the implementation that have given us pause for thought. The CEA is now neutral on measurement.

“Basically, however, Colorado needs to do better in funding our schools. While this program does not harm or reduce funding for our students and schools, it does underscore the need that more support during school hours would help students succeed. Fully funding our public schools would eliminate the need for the state to consider creative and alternative ways to fund essential services for students. “

Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association

“I have a lot of confidence in the ballot initiative and in the independent council that will manage the funds and have some accountability. We have a lot of educators across the state who are supportive and excited about the initiative. , STEM programs in Grand Junction, and schools that focus on autism and children with special needs, ”said Ragland.

Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids has until August 2 to deliver 124,632 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office for verification.

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