Denver Decides If College Matters Tuesday


UPDATE: Denver voters rejected the college affordability ballot measure by about eight points. Meanwhile it looks like Pueblo, Colo., will become the next City of Promise as voters passed a measure to apply an excise tax on marijuana cultivators to establish a college scholarship program.

Tuesday is election day and there isn’t that much excitement about it. Ohio’s measure to legalize marijuana is getting a good bit of attention as are tightly contested gubernatorial races in Kentucky and Louisiana. But the number of statewide measures up for consideration are at a 25-year low.

Of course, there are a number of mayoral races to be decided, including places like Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Orlando, Fla.; and Philadelphia, Pa.

But for Cities of Promise, we will be focused on Issue 2A in Denver, Colo., which could use a very small slice of city sales tax — eight cents per $100 purchase — to generate $10 million a year for college scholarships.

This measure has wide support and publicity as evidenced by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper hooping it up for Issue 2A, known as College Matters. But the Denver Post editorial board doesn’t think this should be a city responsibility basically because it never has been.

If passed by voters, the City of Denver will establish a non-profit entity to partner with philanthropy-supported scholarship organizations, which includes the Denver Scholarship Foundation. The measure will “sunset” in 10 years unless voters vote to extend it later.

The message is pretty simple — debt means students can’t contribute to the economy. Voters will choose whether or not to give a penny for every $12 they spend.

And a collective thumb’s up won’t just mean a world of difference for the city’s youth, it would also provide a model to consider for cities across the land.

And we know that the U.S. can use more Cities of Promise.