Inflection Point: Should Denver Voters Approve a New Tax for Higher Education Scholarships ?

Photo of Denver city and county bldgDenver’s City Council recently approved (by a vote of 8-4) a referred measure to be voted on by Denver citizens on November 3: the Denver College Affordability Fund.

Local support for higher education scholarship is rare, as opposed to scholarship funding at the state level.  And, most local initiatives are supported more by philanthropy than by tax dollars. The Kalamazoo (MI) Promise is one such program, and others are emerging, as states cut back their financial support for higher education and as tuition costs increase.

The Denver proposal is to raise the city sales tax by 0.08 percent, less than a penny on a $10 purchase, for 10 years.  This would raise about $11 million annually for scholarship.  The program would be income capped, and aimed at students who have lived in Denver for more than 3 years, are under 25 years of age, and would attend college in Colorado.  The money would be managed by a city-funded nonprofit board and much of the funding would go to existing organizations that support scholarships.

As with any such plan, there are many details about how to raise the tax funds, what individuals and organizations to support, as well as other impacts.

Please join our expert panel on Tues., Sept. 15, 2015 from 4:30-6 p.m. to discuss the pros and cons of this ballot measure, and put it into a broader national context.  There will be plenty of time for audience questions as well. The location is 1380 Lawrence Street, 2nd floor Terrace Room.

Paul Teske, Dean, School of Public Affairs and Director, Buechner Institute for Governance

Seth Belzley, Hogan Lovells attorney and supporter
A city council member who voted against the proposal, tbd
Dustin Weeden, higher education policy specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures


Categories: Commentary

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