Denver Question 2A: What you need to know about the Denver Preschool Program tax

The economy is doing well, and the 0.03 percent sales tax is collecting more money than anticipated.

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Denver voters agreed to tax themselves to subsidize preschool for four-year-olds back in 2006, and they extended that tax in 2014. Now the economy is doing well, and the 0.03 percent sales tax is collecting more money than anticipated.

Under Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the city would need to return that money to taxpayers unless voters give them permission to keep it.

That’s what Denver Referred Question 2A is about.

Here’s the language you’ll see on your ballot:

May the City and County of Denver retain and spend all 2015 revenues derived from the three one-hundredths of one percent (0.03%) sales and use tax rate increase in support of the Denver Preschool Program as originally approved by the voters on Nov. 4, 2014, and continue to impose and collect the tax to the full extent permitted by the original voter approval through Dec. 31, 2026?

What does it mean?

Denver Preschool Program provides a sliding-scale subsidy to the parents of four-year-olds for the year of preschool before they enter kindergarten and also provides money to preschools to help them improve the quality of care and instruction. (Full disclosure: I have used the Denver Preschool Program benefit.)

The goal is to improve school readiness for all Denver children, regardless of income.

The program is paid for by a 0.03 percent sales tax. Question 2A allows the Denver Preschool Program to keep all the revenue generated by that tax between now and 2026, when it’s set to expire.

In the past, when the program has had more revenue due to a stronger economy, that money has been used to extend the benefit through the summer months and to extend the benefit to more families.

These types of “can we keep it?” tax questions are pretty routine, and there isn’t much of a campaign around the measure, much less opposition.

 

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