Friday, November 20, 2020

National Interest, Out-of-State Money and a Mixed Message

Of the eleven ballot issues, Colorado voters passed nearly all, and the result will be seen as more on the liberal than conservative side. But, the result was mixed. In two votes, more conservative fiscal forces won (lower the income tax and putting state fees under TABOR). But, the election also raised taxes on nicotine and homeowners with the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment. Also, paid leave will be a major expense for both workers and employers.

Some of the major trends were:

  • COVID-19 did not appear a deterrent to getting many initiatives on the ballot. Historically, eleven proposals make up a full ballot.
  • There were several significant out-of-state interest groups involved in Colorado ballot campaigns (e.g., Popular Vote, Abortion Limits, Paid Leave)
  • Significant out-of-state money flowed to several proposals
  • 2020 was a good year for the more liberal side of issues, but some close votes on both sides (Popular Vote 52%, Gray Wolves 51, Fees 52%)
  • Colorado likes sin taxes (Nicotine 67%) and gaming (Gaming Limits 60%) (if limited to 3 cities)
  • 2020 was a good year for “paid leave” (58%). It could argue it was relevant to both health care and economic help for workers.
  • The Governor’s support was mostly positive. He took 5 positions and won 4.
  • Gallagher repeal was a success for local government support (fire fighters) combined with both liberal- and business-desired tax reforms. It represents a small step in untying Colorado’s fiscal knot.
  • As TABOR in 1992 demonstrated, direct democracy can have major impact on state’s operations and finances

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