Jared Polis: Proposition EE will help our schools, economy and public health

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Coloradans have the opportunity this year to help our schools, fight the teen vaping crisis, and make our state more affordable for families — all by marking “yes” on Proposition EE on our ballots.

This ballot measure will provide free preschool access to every four-year-old in Colorado. Prop. EE also restores crucial public school funding that was lost due to COVID-19 budget cuts — money that will go a long way to help our schools return to full-time in-person learning as quickly and safely as possible. I encourage every Coloradan to vote yes.

This spring, I worked with the Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature to bring together business, health care, and education leaders from across Colorado to advise us as we crafted the bipartisan Proposition EE and referred the measure to the voters. The result is that at a time when our country is more divided than ever politically, Prop. EE has far-reaching support from across the ideological spectrum. Its endorsers range from the American Heart Association to teachers unions, from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to the state’s most conservative newspaper editorial board.

That’s because Prop. EE helps Colorado families in ways we can all agree are worthwhile — paid for in a manner that is thoughtful, practical and science-driven.

Let’s start with how it will be paid for. Prop. EE closes a tax loophole whose greatest beneficiary is tobacco executives.

Currently, Colorado has among the lowest cigarette taxes in the country — and vaping products are excluded from the tax altogether. It’s no coincidence that we’re also among the states with the highest rate of teen vaping. Prop. EE gradually brings our cigarette tax into line with other states, while closing the vape tax loophole so that vaping products are taxed like every other tobacco product.

Health experts from the American Lung Association to Children’s Hospital Colorado agree that these changes will reduce teen vaping, helping our kids avoid the harmful long-term health consequences of nicotine use and, in the long run, reducing health care costs. In addition, all Prop. EE funds will be audited every year — so the people of Colorado will know that the money is going exactly where the voters say.

Prop EE will also provide free, universal preschool access for every Colorado family. Study after study has shown that quality preschool narrows the achievement gap and improves educational, economic, and health outcomes throughout a child’s life. Kids who go to preschool are more likely to read at grade level in elementary school, graduate high school on time, avoid contact with the criminal justice system, and earn better wages as adults. Every child in Colorado deserves this opportunity.

Equally clear are the benefits to parents and families. Preschool in Colorado can easily exceed $1,000 per month. That’s money that could instead go toward paying for essentials, starting a business, or saving for the future. And providing preschool opportunities enables parents to return to work faster if they choose, move forward in their careers, and earn better wages.

Prop. EE is a win-win solution: by closing a special interest tax loophole that is harmful to our kids’ health, we gain free preschool access for every four-year-old, healthier families, and better schools.

Let’s come together and turn that vision into reality, Colorado. Yes on Prop EE.

Jared Polis is the governor of Colorado.

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