DENVER - Leading up to the November election, 7NEWS and TheDenverChannel.com will check the accuracy of political ads.
"Truth Tracker," is based on the following scale:
This Truth Tracker focuses on the ad: "Big Change, Small Price" by "Colorado Commits to Kids." It supports Amendment 66, which would increase the state's individual income tax rate to create a fund for public education.
View the Colorado Commits to Kids website by clicking on this link: http://ch7ne.ws/H0tkS1
YES VOTE: Increases the state individual income tax from 4.63% to 5% for the first $75,000 of taxable income.
YES VOTE: Increases the state individual income tax from 4.63% to 5.9% for taxable income greater than $75,000.
NO VOTE: Keeps the state individual income tax at 4.63% for all taxable income levels.
AD 1: "More teacher aides for $133 a year. Amendment 66 puts the money in the classroom. Big change. Small price."
AD 2: "Bring back gym class for $133 a year. Amendment 66 keeps money out of administration. Big change. Small price.”
First, let's look at the claims about the money.
TRUTH TRACKER: $133 a year is MOSTLY TRUE*
The amount of additional taxes you pay each year will depend on your taxable income. The $133 a year amount is based on the median Colorado income level of $57,685. It also depends on the number of deductions and exemptions on your tax filing. The group assumed deductions and exemptions that resulted in 62.4 percent of that $57,685 as being taxable income. If the new tax rates under Amendment 66 were in effect, you would pay more taxes each year regardless of your income level. For the most part, if your income level is less than $57,685, you will likely pay less than $133 additional each year. Generally, if your income level is greater than $57,685, you will likely pay more than $133 additional each year.
View the math by visiting this cheat sheet: http://ch7ne.ws/1hV2d5Q
The state has its own tax calculator available online: http://ch7ne.ws/1giXTSw
Based on the state's calculations, the same family making $57,685 in taxable income would actually pay $213 more a year, not $133. Even the state website cautions that the calculator is a tool for estimates and not a statement of true tax liability.
Based on the state's calculations, 7NEWS did the math for other income levels:
$10,000 = $37 additional taxes each year
$25,000 = $93 additional taxes each year
$35,995 (which is the taxable income representative of a median income of $57,685): $133 additional taxes each year
$40,000 = $148 additional taxes each year
$75,000 = $278 additional taxes each year
$100,000 = $595 additional taxes each year
$150,000 = $1,230 additional taxes each year.
*An earlier version of these calculations showed how much additional taxes a person making $57,685 in TAXABLE income would pay. That figure is $213. The claim in the ad of $133 a year is based on a median income of $57,685 which is not the same as the TAXABLE income. The taxable income of $57,685 is calculated as $35,995 (or 62.4 percent of $57,685).
Now, let's look at the claims about the promises.
AD: "More teacher aides" and "Bring back gym class" (another ad promises more individual attention and to bring back music class).
TRUTH TRACKER: MISLEADING
There are no specific promises in Amendment 66 to hire more teacher aides, offer more individual attention or bring back gym or music classes that may have already been cut. The passage of Amendment 66 would also enact Senate Bill 213 (read a simplified version of the Senate Bill by clicking on this link: http://ch7ne.ws/1aKUoNI). Senate Bill 213 specifies how some of the money will be spent, such as preschool and full-day kindergarten, but it does not promise or require schools to bring back music or gym classes that may have been cut.
AD: "Amendment 66 puts the money in the classroom."
TRUTH TRACKER: TRUE
There are provisions of Amendment 66 and Senate Bill 213 that call for specific amounts of money to be spent in areas that will impact the classroom, like the preschool and kindergarten requirements as previously noted.
However, all of the money generated from the passage of Amendment 66 will not necessarily go to the classroom, but the language of the ad does not make that claim.
AD: "Amendment 66 keeps money out of administration."
TRUTH TRACKER: MISLEADING
Amendment 66 does not have any provisions that prevent a district from using money as it sees fit. It actually has a funding mechanism for how districts will receive money for the number of students the district has in its population. Senate Bill 213 specifically states, "The district has discretion concerning the amounts and purposes for which the moneys for budgeted and expended."
There is also a provision to reimburse a district for seeking a mill levy increase through an election, which would be an administrative cost.
Amendment 66 would create a fund for K-12 public education, which includes administration, meaning money can be spent outside of the classroom. There is no guarantee that the dollars cannot be spent at the administrative level.
Youtube video of ad link for mobile users: http://ch7ne.ws/1cTnG1b