I’m writing to urge Larimer County residents to consider a “yes” vote on Proposition EE, a statewide tobacco/vaping tax that will allow us to provide universal access to preschool for 4-year-olds in Colorado.

This measure will go a long way in closing the educational gap for our state’s preschoolers, and is an important first step in increasing educational access and equity for Colorado children.

Research continually demonstrates that early childhood education is one of the very best investments we can make for our children, with an estimated return on investment of $8.60 for every dollar spent.

It is important to note how much we’ve learned over the past few months about educational access in our community. As schools shut down in March due to COVID-19 restrictions, and families were forced to choose between working or managing their children’s remote learning, we were clearly shown just how important public education is to our community.

Families rely on public education so they can work and contribute to our local economy. When children have a safe, caring environment that supports their growth and development, families can work and succeed without added stress about their children’s education needs.

Quality early education also supports children in their long-term educational attainment, as well as increased earnings over their lifetime. Public investment in early education is critical to support the well-being of our community, and a yes vote on Proposition EE is a vital first step.

Taxing vaping products is overdue as well. By leaving these highly addictive products tax-free, we have made it much easier for youth to vape. Colorado has one of the highest youth vaping rates in the nation.

As a professional who has worked in both the public health and education arenas during my career, I have a deep appreciation for why this proposition is right for Larimer County and for Colorado and will contribute to the health and well-being of children for years to come.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the other areas this tobacco/vaping tax will help. Millions in funding will also flow to our state’s public schools, to affordable housing and eviction assistance, and for tobacco cessation programs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created funding needs in all of these areas, and Proposition EE couldn’t be any better timed.

If Proposition EE passes, there will be much work to be done in Larimer County to ensure the needs of the community are met by the additional funding.

Fortunately for our children, we have a strong network of organizations and individuals ready to roll up their sleeves to do this work, to ensure that universal preschool is implemented in a way that benefits Colorado children and the early care and education sector as a whole.

Christina N. Taylor is executive director of the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County.

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