Friday, November 8, 2013


Governor Hickenlooper and the public education establishment were crushed two-to-one by voters unwilling to raise their income taxes to provide billions to K-12 education.

Amendment 66 was not beaten by a better campaign. In fact, opponents had no real campaign. This vote was the collective will of Colorado voters saying no to the proposal and more state taxes.

Just two years ago, voters defeated a less expensive school funding proposal by the same two-to-one margin. The main difference is that Senator Rollie Heath campaigned with a few hundred thousand dollars in 2011. Hickenlooper and allies spent – or wasted - $10 million dollars.

Amendment 66 was:
  • Too burdensome. The real cost for the average voter would have been $200 or more per year.
  • Too hostile to business. The split tax was a major burden on small businesses and upper-income professionals.
  • Too rich. The billions for schools was seen as excessive and not for desperate needs, but add-ons and extras.
  • Too little reform. Not only was the complex reform proposal judged modest by many, but the union allies made it clear they would fight it every step of the way.
The vote was a rejection of the proposal, not reform and choice. Reform-oriented candidates for school boards won in Denver and Douglas counties and in many school districts around the state. Nor is it merely opposition to new revenue for schools. Voters in 2012 supported funding requests of one billion dollars worth of local school district bond and revenue overrides.

Colorado voters don’t trust state government with more money. Since TABOR passed in 1992 and voters were allowed to vote on taxes, they have said no – no to transit sales tax, no to gas tax increases, no to TABOR overrides, no to severance tax increases and now no to income tax increases.

Hickenlooper, the businessman, would have likely warned against the tax hike, but as the governor, leader of the Democratic Party and friend of the education establishment, especially the reform wing, he went along with it. Clearly, he wasn’t the happy warrior campaigning, and now his political reputation has been damaged.

Statewide school reform has been set back and funding schools, transportation and higher education just heard a loud and collective “no chance.”

See articles:
Washington Post: Six of 11 counties reject secession in blow to Colorado effort
Washington Times: Biggest loser: Bloomberg’s election spending won little for departing NYC mayor
Colorado Springs Gazette: Amendment 66 “crushed”; Colorado Republicans see opportunity
9News: Colorado voters don’t care too much for money
Esquire: This week in the laboratories of Democracy
Washington Times: Colorado says yes to tax on pot, no to higher levies for K-12 schools
Reuters: Colorado voters to decide on marijuana, education tax issues
Colorado Observer: Election 2013: Ciruli’s 6 trends to watch
Bond Buyer: In angry Colorado corner, counties vote on exit

1 comment:

Dave Barnes said...

I would add:
1. Multi-tier tax rates. Too similar to California.
2. Amendment. I, for one, am tired of sticking finance/funding stuff into the constitution.