Colorado governor John Hickenlooper supports Initiative 22 education tax increase

DENVER - Gov. John Hickenlooper told a group of business and civic leaders on Wednesday that he supports a proposed ballot measure that would raise $950 million in new taxes to fund public schools.

In his comments to the Colorado Forum, a group that supports the tax increase, Hickenlooper provided his most public backing of the proposed ballot initiative, which would bankroll the state's school finance overhaul outlined in Senate Bill 213.

"His message was pretty straight-forward: The package of reforms in SB 213 will make Colorado the leader in America for public education," said Alan Salazar, the governor's chief strategy officer, in an e-mail. "He supports going to the ballot this year so Colorado's voters have an opportunity to fund this package."

The tax initiative was the focus of Hickenlooper's opening comments to the group, according to attendees, who said he also answered questions related to the measure.

The legislation sets various goals such as reducing class sizes, increasing access to pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten, and offering additional money for special-education programs. Those measures cannot be paid for if voters do not agree to a proposed tax increase in November.

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