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Two statewide tax initiatives qualify for 2021 Colorado ballot

One measure would raise taxes on marijuana, another would slash property taxes
La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker drops off 360 ballots at the Durango post office for the 2019 election. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Two tax measures are headed to Colorado’s 2021 statewide ballot after supporters submitted the required number of voter signatures, Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office announced last week.

The measures, Initiatives 25 and 27, are the first to qualify for the 2021 ballot. Supporters submitted more than the 124,632 valid signatures – 5% of the total votes cast for secretary of state in the previous general election – as required by the Colorado Constitution, Griswold’s office said.

Initiative 25, the “Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program,” would fund a $150 million statewide effort to provide tutoring aid to Colorado students by raising the sales tax rate on recreational marijuana from 15% to 20%. The measure is backed by a bipartisan coalition that includes many education reform groups.

“Educators, employers, families and Colorado voters understand – we have an opportunity to support the students who need this help the most with Initiative 25,” Tony Lewis, a supporter of the initiative and the executive director of the Donnell-Kay Foundation, said in a statement. “The educational future of our children has been upended by the pandemic and while the most marginalized children will likely have the most learning loss, this has impacted students in nearly every political, geographic, economic, and racial group in our state.”

Meanwhile, Initiative 27, filed by conservative dark-money group Colorado Rising State Action, would slash Colorado property taxes, reducing the residential assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.5%, and the non-residential rate from 29% to 26.4%.

Earlier this year, a fiscal analysis by nonpartisan state staff members estimated that the cuts would drain more than $1 billion from city, county and school district budgets across Colorado – though that impact could be partially offset by changes to property tax classifications approved by state lawmakers in the final days of the 2021 legislative session.

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