DALLAS – A petition drive to raise about $1 billion per year for education through higher income taxes arrived at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office Monday with nearly twice the number of required signatures.

To qualify for the November ballot, the Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative needed to gather signatures from 86,105 registered Colorado voters, but backers submitted more than 160,000 signatures. The Secretary of State’s Office has 30 days to determine whether the petition gathered the required number of valid signatures.

“We’re not just delivering petitions today,” said Gail Klapper, director of the Colorado Forum, which has been working on the project with business, civic and educational leaders for nearly two years. “We’re delivering a message to our students and our businesses that Coloradans understand the best investment we can make in their economic futures is through our education system.”

The initiative will ask voters to approve a two-step state income-tax rate increase to pay for reforms. On incomes up to $75,000, the rate would increase from current 4.63% to 5%. Any income above $75,000 would be taxed at a rate of 5.9%.

Promoters are not skirting the tax issue and include a tax calculator on their Web site. A taxpayer who earns $45,000 would pay an additional $166.50 a year if the proposal passes, while someone earning $100,000 would pay an extra $595.

While proponents say the additional revenue would make up for $1 billion of cuts to Colorado public schools and improve education by reducing class size and extending the school year, opponents say the money is not needed and would have no effect.

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