Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Voters Unsure on Statewide Ballot Issues

In a recent statewide voter poll on the tax and debt issues on Colorado’s November ballot, only one has majority support, and upward of one-half of voters are either unsure or offer only weak support or opposition on the remaining ballot issues.

Proposition 101, which lowers the state income tax, telecommunications fees, and auto taxes and fees, is the one ballot issue passing with 51 percent support.

Amendment 60, which cuts the local school property tax, has only 32 percent support and 45 percent opposition. Amendment 61, which limits state and local debt, has 36 percent support and about the same percentage of opposition (34%).

More voters are saying they will definitely vote against Amendments 60 and 61 than definitely vote for (see chart below for question wording and detailed data). Only the income tax reduction issue has more definite supporters than definite opponents (36% “for” to 24% “against”).

The statewide survey was conducted by Ciruli Associates with 550 likely Colorado voters from August 19 to 23, 2010. The political questions were part of a survey sponsored by a consortium of grocery and convenience stores. The statistical range of error is ±4.2 percentage points. Ciruli Associates is responsible for the questions and analysis.

Partisan Differences

Although there are partisan differences between voters who are definitely supporting and definitely opposing the proposals, the differences are as expected. And, the percentages only climb above 40 percent on two items: Forty-four percent of Republicans support Proposition 101, the income tax, auto and telecommunication tax and fee reduction measures, and 43 percent of Democrats oppose Amendment 60, which would cut local school property taxes.

Clearly, Amendment 60’s impact on schools has generated considerable opposition early in the campaign, while voters still have little information or awareness of the other two issues. Proposition 101’s statutory changes to the income, auto and telecommunications taxes and fees appear to have some initial attraction – again, before any real campaign has started.
Titles that will appear on the ballot:

Amendment 60 (property taxes):
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning government charges on property, and, in connection therewith, allowing petitions in all districts for elections to lower property taxes; specifying requirements for property tax elections; requiring enterprises and authorities to pay property taxes but offsetting the revenues with lower tax rates; prohibiting enterprises and unelected boards from levying fees or taxes on property; setting expiration dates for certain tax rate and revenue increases; requiring school districts to reduce property tax rates and replacing the revenue with state aid; and eliminating property taxes that exceed the dollar amount included in an approved ballot question, that exceed state property tax laws, policies, and limits existing in 1992 that have been violated, changed, or weakened without state voter approval, or that were not approved by voters without certain ballot language?

Amendment 61 (state and local debt limitation):
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning limitations on government borrowing, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting future borrowing in any form by state government; requiring voter approval of future borrowing by local governmental entities; limiting the form, term, and amount of total borrowing by each local governmental entity; directing all current borrowing to be paid; and reducing tax rates after certain borrowing is fully repaid?

Proposition 101 (motor vehicle, income and telecommunications taxes and fees):
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning limits on government charges, and, in connection therewith, reducing vehicle ownership taxes over four years to nominal amounts; ending taxes on vehicle rentals and leases; phasing in over four years a $10,000 vehicle sale price tax exemption; setting total yearly registration, license, and title charges at $10 per vehicle; repealing other specific vehicle charges; lowering the state income tax rate to 4.5% and phasing in a further reduction in the rate to 3.5%; ending state and local taxes and charges, except 911 charges, on telecommunication service customer accounts; and stating that, with certain specified exceptions, any added charges on vehicles and telecommunication service customer accounts shall be tax increases?

(Captions are not official titles)

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