DENVER (AP) — A coalition that wants to ask Colorado voters to approve higher taxes on recreational marijuana to help children make up for learning losses during the pandemic and address tutoring and other special needs for low-income and disadvantaged children said Wednesday it’s been endorsed by former Democratic and Republican governors.
Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids is circulating petitions in hopes of collecting nearly 250,000 voter signatures needed by Aug. 2 to place its initiative on the November ballot.
The campaign said former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, former Republican Gov. Bill Owens, state lawmakers from both parties and a host of educational and advocacy groups, many serving Black and Latino children, have endorsed the effort.
Initiative 25 would create a Colorado Learning Authority within the state education department to oversee out-of-school tutoring, English language instruction, special needs and disability instruction, mental health and career and technical training for children ages 5-17.
To pay for the program, backers want Colorado voters to approve a 5% excise tax increase on recreational marijuana by 2024 to generate more than $137 million a year. Recreational pot sales currently carry a 2.9% state sales tax and a 15% excise tax, with proceeds directed, in part, to school construction and maintenance.