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Denver poll question may increase marijuana taxes for out-of-school learning

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An initiative proposing that Denver increase recreational marijuana sales taxes to fund out-of-school learning stipends will appear in November’s ballot, according to the Denver Constituency.

group behind Spark Denver Provide enough approved signatures to get the proposal in the city’s November 8 ballot. The initiative proposes increasing Denver’s recreational marijuana sales tax by 4.5 percent in order to support a $1,000 salary subsidy that will be distributed to Denver families learning enrichment programs.

According to My Spark Denver supporters, the tax increase would raise $22.5 million annually that would serve an estimated 20,000 children aged five to eighteen. Under the proposal, 0.3 percent of Denver’s current marijuana tax revenue, or about $1.5 million annually, will also go to My Spark Denver.

Colorado voters rejected a proposal similar to Mayspark Denver last november. Proposition 119 requested a 5 percent increase in marijuana sales taxes statewide to help fund a new out-of-school educational program. Although that measure lost by an 8.5 percent margin across the state, it was more successful in Denver, where Almost 49 percent of voters He agreed to the measure.

Prop 119 and the My Spark Denver campaign are both funded by Gary Community Ventureswhich has spent more than $1 million to pay Prop 119 and is responsible for all $270,000 My Spark Denver contributions to date, according to Denver Clerk’s Office.

Gary Community Ventures has not commented on My Spark Denver, but the initiative has public support from groups such as the YMCA of Metro Denver, Healthier Colorado, Servicios de la Raza, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Northeast Denver Islamic Center, Tepeyac Community Health Center, Colorado Black Round Table the Movimento Podder; State Representative Serena Gonzalez Guterres, whose district is in Denver, is also a supporter.

Mike Curtis, a researcher in residence at the University of Denver, has advocated for equality in education since he was a professor at DU. Curtis, who is now a member of the Steering Committee for My Spark Denver, says the COVID-19 pandemic has “increased” educational disparities between low-income, middle-income and high-income families, with many low-income families coming from communities of color.

“The main thing that has concerned me is that for many years, education outcomes for Hispanics in public schools have not been what they should have been. In Denver, in particular, we find that Hispanic children are more likely to attend schools with comparative resources and are less likely to achieve good educational outcomes.” , he says, adding that the quality of learning at home during school closures due to the pandemic has been largely dependent on parental resources.

“Too many low-income families do not have enough bandwidth at home, if any, to communicate effectively with all of their children’s teachers,” he says. “In a way, the bad situation is now even worse.”

The $1,000 stipend can be used for out-of-school programs that provide tutoring and “supplementary academic instruction” in educational areas, as well as sports activities, vocational training, or mental health. Funds can also be used for educational materials and transportation needed to participate in such programs.

Pillar 119 has faced criticism from within the educational community For several reasons, including the fact that he did not set aside any money for public school programs and he also banned free educational providers. The structure of its supervisory board has also come under fire. The setup of My Spark Denver will be similar, with the program being managed by a nine-member board of directors. The mayor of Denver appoints seven of these members; He will be one of the Denver City Council members and the ninth superintendent of Denver Public Schools or a specific person chosen by the DPS administrator.

The My Spark Denver Board of Directors will screen and accredit educational providers for the program, with pre-authorization of public schools and public school teachers as providers, according to the proposal. Children must live in Denver and be eligible for admission to public schools in order to qualify for funds, but the My Spark Denver language does not specify whether a child must actually be enrolled in a public school.

DPS declined to comment on the ballot initiative. The Colorado Educational AssociationThe Denver-based Colorado Teachers’ Union of 40,000 members did not respond to requests for comment.

Denver voters Two separate proposals to raise marijuana tax in 2021 elections rejected. The city’s total sales tax on the entertainment bowl, which includes a handful of state and local rates, is currently 26.41 percent. It will top 30 percent if My Spark Denver is passed, putting Denver on top of the rest of Colorado for marijuana sales tax rates.

Many members of Denver’s marijuana industry, in the midst of a year-long decline in product prices and sales revenue, opposed My Spark Denver. according to marijuana industry group CEO Truman Bradley, the higher tax rate could make a bad situation worse for dispensaries, some of which have already been closed due to poor sales.

“There are more than 40,000 badge-bearing employees and nearly 2,000 owners who work and do business in Colorado cannabis,” Bradley wrote in a public letter to Denver. city ​​Council. “The marijuana business in Colorado, as with many other businesses, is suffering greatly due to the high generational inflation the country is experiencing. The marijuana industry has experienced more than 12 consecutive months of declining sales.”

The federal marijuana ban prevents marijuana companies from obtaining tax credits, forcing dispensaries to pay total tax rates of more than 70 percent, according to Bradley, who adds that marijuana proceeds have become an overused resource for state-backed enterprises or voters.

Curtis thinks paying the extra 4.5 percent at dispensaries is worth the price.

“All things considered with the social justice aspect of this, when you consider the impact of insufficient education for children, it outweighs asking people who buy marijuana to pay a little bit more at the store,” he argues.

Here is the language of the My Spark Denver initiative, as well as the details of the petition:

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Grow guide for marijuana beginners.

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