School officials in the Springs rejoice as returns come in showing voters approved $42 m bond issue for District 11 schools.
For years, since moving to Colorado, we've noted how voters seldom if ever approved tax increases - whether for schools, roads, or the environment (parks, walking trails, etc.) All that changed Tuesday night as the results came in showing that across the Front Range major bond issues had been approved by the new legions of Colorado voters. (Many of the 55,000 new transplants in the past few years coming from Blue states to the east.)
For example, Denver voters approved the city’s $937 million bond package. for roads, parks, libraries and cultural facilities. This was the city’s largest-ever bond program — and the first sent to voters in a decade . The basic reason was - like in Colorado Springs- Doug Bruce's TABOR had contaminated the tax landscape , leading too many on the conservo side to vote against any new tax increases for whatever purpose.
Thus, it was even more astonishing that the results in Colorado Springs - perhaps the most conservative burg in the state - finally broke from the Bruce 'no tax' meme and approved huge spending packages. These included increasing storm water fees (to free up money for more police and firefighters), as well as approving a bond issue for expansion of the I-25 from Monument to Castle Rock, and also using TABOR funds for parks and infrastructure projects.
But the biggest surprise of all, bar none for us in conservative EL Paso county, was voter approval of a $42 million annual property tax increase, the first increase for District 11 (our school district) in 17 years. All previous efforts to raise money for the schools, which had been suffering from water leaks in older buildings, no a/c, poor facilities - had gone down thanks to the not tax mentality of too many - mainly retired conservative military vets who saw no need to do "tax and spend".
In the words of Superintendent Nicholas Gledich, at a watch party that turned lively as results started coming in:
"This is a game changer. The voters have created a legacy. Their dollars will make a difference in the lives of children."
D-11 is the region's oldest and largest school district, with about 27,700 students. It had a 34 percent voter turnout, and by 11 p.m. .Tuesday night the approval of 3E was passing 57% to 43 %. The extra money will cost homeowners about $3.75 a month per $100,000 of property value. For us, that will come to about an extra $96 a year but will be worth it to enable the students to have decent buildings in which to learn.
As Kevin Vick, president of the Colorado Springs Education Association said after it was clear 3E was a done deal:
"This gives us a future for this district. There's going to be a lot of happy teachers tomorrow."
Indeed. Wifey and I had read about all the ballot issues in advance, before receiving our mail in ballots. We knew we'd pay more but we both agreed the time was now to approve more taxes. We could not in good conscience side with the low or anti-tax Gooprs from whose no votes we've beheld a steady decline in the quality of life - from schools, to roads, to parks. Enough we said!
Other, mainly younger voters - and some older- obviously felt the same. It also appeared many of us wanted to make a voting statement that in Trump's America some true patriots are prepared to pay taxes for the betterment of all, not punk out. This, even as the GOP tries to push through one of the most odious "tax reform" packages ever.
So, it was also encouraging to see Dems romp across the nation on Tuesday with two big wins in NJ and Virginia. The latter was especially sweet, as it saw the Dem (Ralph Northam) take out Ed Gillespie - a GOP lobbyist troll - who had tried to use the issue of Confederate monuments and immigrant gangs to scare Virginians into voting for him. He blew it, losing by 9 points. At the same time Dems were taking back seats in the Virginia House of Delegates - including a seat won by a Democratic Socialist and another by a Transgender candidate.
The victories hold promise for next year's mid terms and finally taking back the House. The key to doing that will be running a diverse but competent set of candidates and competing everywhere possible - even is the Red states. The main thing is to sustain the energy level so that the turnout is every bit as high as it was this time. What we've seen is that the Resistance is able to translate its anti-Trump energy into electoral success. Now, we need to show it can be repeated.