Colorado Amendment 66 Deep-Sixed

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Colorado Amendment 66 Deep-Sixed

Colorado Tax Increase for EducationEven $10 million in campaign spending could not convince Coloradans to raise taxes by almost $1 billion. In November two-thirds of voters said no to the Colorado Tax Increase for Education, Amendment 66. The National Education Association union and its affiliate, the Colorado Education Association, spent at least $4 million promoting the tax hike, while an additional $1 million each from former New York City Mayor Bloomberg and Bill and Melinda Gates was funneled into the campaign. (Education Intelligence Agency, 11-6-13)

Although deluged by pro-66 TV ads, Colorado voters weren’t buying what the outsiders were selling. The Colorado director of Americans for Prosperity said, “We congratulate Coloradans for having the common sense to reject this unnecessary and unjustified tax grab.” He claimed that, “Passing Amendment 66 would have gravely wounded the state’s economy and business climate, while rewarding a reform-resistant education system with an unearned windfall.”  (Denver Post, 11-5-13)

Voters were unconvinced that $1 billion was needed to achieve smaller class sizes, full-day kindergarten, and other reforms. One opponent said, “Just taking money and throwing it at a broken system is not what’s going to make the education system better.” (New York Times, 11-5-13)

In 1992, Coloradans passed a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that prohibits state and local governments from raising income tax rates without voter approval. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and other tax-hike proponents vowed to keep on fighting. A National Review columnist, noting that even Arne Duncan voiced support for Amendment 66, commented, “It’s a gratifying demonstration that the political class, for all its wealth and influence, can still be defeated by ordinary citizens exercising the vote.” But the article also cautioned that Colorado voters may not have the final say, stating, “A favorite tactic of the more-ed-spending coalition is to bypass the democratic process via lawsuits.” Judges overturn what voters have decided at the polls and “seize control of education policy.” Courts have used this method in Kansas, New Jersey, and most infamously, in Kansas City, Missouri. (National Review, 11-7-13)

Coloradans did pass a marijuana tax that will help fund school construction, as well as a system to control the legal sale of the drug for recreational use, which voters approved a year ago. In an article titled “Rocky Mountain High Taxes,” Wall Street Journal editors wrote, in reference to Amendment 66, “If it does pass, we’ll also know that millions of Coloradans have taken to smoking that marijuana they legalized last year.” (10-23-13)