Thursday, November 17, 2011

Anti-Tax Voters Dominate Colorado’s 2011 Election

“This election is overwhelmingly being framed by this economy,” said Political Analyst Floyd Ciruli, “Killing field for new taxes,” Denver Post 11-2-11

·        The economy became a more significant and negative issue over the summer as warnings of a double-dip recession rang more and more loudly.  Polls across the country showed drops in voter optimism and consumer confidence.
-         Country moving in right direction: May 2011 – 36% vs. October 2011 – 17% (NBC News/WSJ)
-         Personal economic situation: better – 16% vs. worse – 36% (NBC News/WSJ Oct 2011)

·        The reputation of government, especially in Washington D.C., declined after the debt ceiling crisis.
-        Approve of the job of Congress: May – 22% vs. August – 13% (NBC News/WSJ)
-        Approve of the job of Obama: May – 52% vs. October – 44% (NBC News/WSJ)
-        Ratings on how federal government works: dissatisfied – 49%, angry – 30% (79% total)

·        The odd-year mail-back voters were older and more conservative.  Turnout for Proposition 103, the statewide tax-hike for education, was about 40% of a presidential election turnout.

·        The statewide ballot initiative (103) was poorly designed, poorly promoted and bereft of any significant support.  The opponents made effective use of stating that tax increases will hurt the economy.  Its two-to-one loss defined the election as an opportunity to say “no” to a tax increase.

·        Proposition 103’s poor performance wasn’t a surprise.  The political establishment expected it, but the size of the loss was significant, especially for the impact it had on the rest of the ballot.

“Other than the usual liberal groups and teachers unions, who came to this rather reluctantly, [Mr. Heath] doesn’t have much support,” Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said.  “The challenge he faces is that not only is the public really anxious about their own income limits and discretionary spending, but this is also an era of anti-government feeling.  It’s just not a good time.”  Washington Times, 9-7-11
·        Proposition 103 helped earn the 2011 election the label as one of Colorado’s worst in recent memory for local tax initiatives.

More than three-quarters of all local school bonds and mil levy proposals were defeated, including in Brighton (Adams), Loveland (Thompson), Douglas County (2 proposals), Eagle County, Mesa (51) and Pueblo County (2).

The Colorado Municipal League reports that nearly half of municipal tax measures have passed since the TABOR Amendment in 1992.  This year, eight cities or towns attempted tax increases, but only one passed.  Transit lost in Avon, library improvements lost in Cañon City and medical care equipment lost in Oak Creek.  Only a street repair proposal in Fort Lupton passed.

Five cities attempted to approve a debt question.  Normally, nearly 70 percent of debt measures pass.  This year only two out of the five (40%) were approved.

As the Denver Post states, Colorado’s Election Day results were a “killing field for tax measures.”

·        Both the State of Colorado and the City and County of Denver have structural deficits, and both will likely have to make additional budget cuts in 2012.  They are among many government jurisdictions that may propose ballot initiatives related to taxes and debt.

The Regional Transportation District wants additional sales tax revenue for its transit build-out and many school districts desire additional revenue for operations and capital.  They have delayed going to the electorate due to the weak economy.  All will undergo much evaluation of possible 2012 ballot initiatives over the next few months.

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