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Sales Tax Proposal Could Fund Higher Education In Denver

By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) - Denver voters could see an initiative on the ballot in November that would increase the sales tax to help fund higher education.

It is called Prosperity Denver.

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Officials say by the year 2020, 74 percent of jobs in Denver will require a post-secondary degree. Less than half of current Denver residents have one of those.

"For many families in our state, higher education is getting more and more out of reach," said Kelly Brough, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Stephanie Lopez is a Denver native who just recently graduated from college, an accomplishment that she once believed would be unobtainable.

CBS4's Karen Morfitt interviews Stephanie Lopez. (credit: CBS)

"There was hesitation of whether or not I should because of the cost," Lopez said.

Now she has her Master's Degree in social work. The Denver Scholarship Foundation is one of several nonprofit groups that helped her pay for college.

"I have conversations with my nieces and nephews about college that are completely different from what I would have had at their age," she said.

The Prosperity Denver initiative calls for about a one-cent tax increase on a $10 purchase, and would go toward grants and academic support services.

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"Colorado currently funds our higher education system 48th out of 50th in the country," Brough said.

Various Denver nonprofit groups would award the money, and unlike some funding it could be used for two or four year institutions as well as technical colleges.

The group turned in its completed petitions on Wednesday. Those signatures will need to be approved before it appears on the ballot.

Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.

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