A group of Colorado parents, students, teachers, anti-hunger advocates and other supporters led the campaign Healthy school meals for everyone Ballot measurement.
For decades, many children in Colorado and the United States lacked access to good quality meals at school, but also at home. This has contributed to a series of problems from hunger and food insecurity to obesity.
During the pandemic, the federal government has provided universal free school lunches to all children, not just those living in the poorest homes, who have qualified for school meal programs. This move has helped many families enjoy better food security than they have been in years. This initiative aims to make this change permanent in Colorado, by limiting tax deductions, but only for the wealthiest Colorado taxpayers.
If voters approve the measure, Proposition FF will create a program to provide access to free meals to all Colorado public school students, and to provide grants to schools to help pay for those meals. This is according to the State’s 2022 Ballot Information Book, also known as blue book. Funding for the program will come from wealthier Colorados residents, specifically by raising taxes on families with incomes greater than $300,000 in federal adjusted gross income by limiting state tax deductions.
Beginning in 2024, the Colorado Department of Education must submit a report every two years to the state legislature on the implementation and provision of school meals and grant programs created by this measure, according to the Blue Book. The agency must also contract with an independent auditor to perform a financial and performance audit of the program. The audit report should be readily available to the public.
The initiative was put on the ballot by the state legislature, which is currently controlled by Democrats. It passes with a majority of votes.
This is the language you will see on the ballot paper:
State taxes must be increased by $100,727,820 annually by changing Revised Colorado laws that, to support healthy meals for public school students, increase state taxable income only for individuals with federal tax income of $300,000 or more by reducing the state tax State itemized or standard income deductions to $12,000 for individual tax filers and $16,000 for joint tax filers, and in connection therewith, Create Healthy School Meals for all programs to provide free school meals to students in public schools; make grants to participating schools to purchase Colorado grown, raised, or processed produce, to increase wages or provide salaries to employees who prepare and serve school meals, and to establish parent and student advisory committees to provide advice to ensure that school meals are healthy and attractive to all students; And creating a program to help promote Colorado food products and prepare school meals with essential nutrients with minimal reliance on manufactured products?
How will it work?
Prop FF creates a program to provide access to free meals to all Colorado public school students and helps schools pay for meals. He does this through a change in state law, the revised Colorado law, and raises $100 million annually.
The change effectively increases state taxable income, but only for individuals whose federal taxable income is $300,000 or more. For this group, the measure would limit itemized, or standard, state income tax deductions to $12,000 for individual tax filers and $16,000 for joint tax filers.
Who is he?
Leading the pro side Healthy school meals for Colorado studentsIt is an alliance of parents, teachers and anti-hunger advocates.
They say the new program will provide free nutritious meals to all Colorado public schools by creating a statewide program.
It would support Colorado farmers and ranchers by compensating school districts to buy locally sourced food. This measure will help equip schools to prepare and serve healthy school meals, by providing districts with grants to upgrade equipment and train staff to serve healthy meals from scratch. It will also fund salary increases for frontline school cafeteria workers, helping schools deal with staff shortages.
The measure will lead to the abolition of what the group described as arbitrary restrictions preventing meals for hungry children. Roughly 70,000 Colorado kids can’t afford school meals, but they don’t qualify for free or reduced-price school meals either. Last year, temporary anti-epidemic aid made all school meals available for free. As a result, many Colorado school districts have seen a sharp increase, in the range of 20% to 40%, in students participating in school meal programs, according to the group.
Finally, proponents say the measure will create a sustainable source of long-term funding to provide free school meals for all. The $100 million raised each year will come from the top 3 percent of Colorado income earners, those who make more than $300,000 a year, according to the group. If you don’t achieve much, your taxes will not be affected by this polling metric.
Who is against it?
There is no organized opposition to this measure.
However, in Official state voter’s guideOpposition arguments include that the measure raises taxes on some families at a time when inflation is rising and the cost of living is rising and that the state should not pay to feed children who can buy a school meal or bring food from home.
Another argument for opposition is that Colorado schools are underfunded and if voters wanted to raise taxes to help students, it would be better to give local school districts fresh funding to spend in other ways.
When lawmakers debated the measure, some Republicans voted against it. They argued on the panel that high-income children who did not need the program could use it and the money should instead fund academic programs.
In his voter’s guide, The Independence Institute, a think tank advocating limited government, recommended no Vote, saying “While we’re sure parents have enjoyed getting free meals through the pandemic, this emergency has passed.” She also questioned whether raising taxes, even on higher-income earners, to fund free meals “for all forever” would be necessary, especially since lower-income students would continue to receive free meals under current law.
In addition, the Common Sense Institutea nonpartisan free market think-tank has analyzed the procedure and raised several concerns.
by group polling guide, more Colorados residents will be affected than proponents said, 4.4 percent (instead of 3 percent). It found that if all Colorado public school authorities participated, an additional 615,000 students would now be eligible for free meals, an increase of 125 percent.
Next year, 114,000 Colorado taxpayers will be taxed to pay for the program, with an average annual tax bill of nearly $1,000. Within a decade, the number of Coloradine residents paying for the program is expected to grow to as many as 339,000 taxpayers.
But according to the Common Sense Institute, modeling her I found that funding may be too high or too low to fully fund it. Surplus revenue could exceed $1 billion in a decade or could be underfunded to the tune of $330 million annually, according to her. polling guide.
Proponents dispute this analysis, saying that the institute appears to be doubling the cost of the program over ten years, rather than an annual funding analysis that shows how the program costs are covered.
Proponents acknowledge that any remaining funding will go to the General Fund, from which any additional costs will come out. They say that based on data and analysis by the legislature, these costs “will be minimal and the proposal will create a long-term program with long-term funding.”
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