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October 2, 2013

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Amendment 66 will improve Colorado’s income tax

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Amendment 66 will restore Colorado’s ability to raise enough revenue to meet our schools’ growing needs and make the income tax more like those of our neighbor states, all without overburdening Coloradans.
Colorado’s low single-rate tax is a key reason state resources are so depleted compared to almost every state in the nation, according to Amendment 66 will improve Colorado’s income tax, an analysis by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Colorado Fiscal Institute and Bell Policy Center. Amendment 66 will restore the ability of Colorado’s income tax to raise the resources we need to create a well-educated, competitive workforce that will boost our economy, the analysis finds.
“For decades, Colorado had a tax system that reflected taxpayer ability to pay,” said Carol Hedges, executive director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute. “Since changing to a flat tax in 1986, we have slowly depleted our capacity to fund schools and other important priorities that improve our economy.”
The changes proposed in Amendment 66 – which include tying tax rates to income like most other states do – will not only raise $950 million annually in much-needed revenue for education but will also make our tax system more efficient, more productive and more equitable.
According to, Amendment 66 will improve Colorado’s income tax:
• For nearly half a century, Colorado used a tiered state income tax, where rates rose along with income. Since the switch to a single income tax rate for all taxpayers, and after two subsequent rate cuts, Colorado has frequently struggled to generate enough revenue to meet the state’s growing needs.
• Colorado ranks 48th among the states in tax collections per $1,000 of income, 27.7 percent below the national average, meaning that it has far fewer resources than almost every other state for essential public services, especially schools.
• Amendment 66 will not overburden Colorado taxpayers. Colorado will still rank well below the national average in state and local taxes – 39th per $1,000 of income.
• Low-income Coloradans pay a greater share of their income in taxes than those with higher incomes. Amendment 66 would narrow the differences
“Amendment 66 provides an opportunity to improve how we raise public dollars while at the same time investing more in our kids’ future. A66 is a win-win for Colorado,” Hedges concluded.
This is the second installment in a three-part series outlining the economic benefits of Amendment 66. The first issue brief (Investing in education will boost Colorado economy) showed that investments in education actually spur economic growth. The second issue brief (Increasing income tax won’t harm Colorado’s economy) showed that increasing the income tax won’t harm the state’s economy.

Terry Scanlon
Public Affairs Manager
303-573-5669 ext. 311


Date added

October 2, 2013

Resource type

Filed under


To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.


Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.


Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.


Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.