Colorado lawmaker wants athletes, entertainers to pay for school computers

Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Barry Bonds would have to pay more in taxes every time they play in Denver under a proposal aimed at raising money for school computers.

If taxpayers helped finance Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies, and the Denver Broncos’ new stadium, the visiting athletes should give something back, Rep. Peter Groff, D-Denver, said.

The proposal would tack an additional 1.37 percent to the 4.63 percent state income tax that visiting athletes and entertainers already pay.

That ranges from rookies to star players like Jordan of the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards, Brady of the National Football League’s New England Patriots, and Bonds of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants.

The plan also would apply to entertainers, although few are expected to pay because the top entertainers are incorporated and covered by a different tax structure.

Groff hopes the additional tax would raise up to $10 million a year to buy school computers.

The bill was heard in February by the House Education Committee. If approved by the Legislature, Groff will introduce a resolution asking voters to improve the tax increase in November.

Athletic organizations have opposed the bill, which has been the subject of debate on sports radio talk shows.

“Why don’t we tax out-of-town attorneys who bring their litigation to Colorado?” asked lobbyist Poncho Hayes, who represents the Denver Broncos.

Groff said this is an opportunity for athletes and entertainers to help children.

“They cannot have it both ways, receiving tax dollars and not being held accountable. We’re trying to teach children to lead in the 21st century with 20th-century materials. It’s time to reform education,” he said.

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