The stunning defeat of Proposition CC should send a clear message to the proponents of ballot issues attempting to increase state revenue – What part of “no” don’t you understand?
In a column in the Sunday Denver Post (11-10-19), I describe the recent history of tax and revenue initiatives and the factors related to the latest loss. The following reviews some of the ideas expressed.
The 2019 Proposition CC, a TABOR override, would have added unspecified amounts to the state coffers, but some estimates said as much as $650 million the next two years. It was the fifth attempt by mostly the same group of advocates – the education establishment and its support groups, a group of donor philanthropists, and business associations that want new tax resources for roads. They have all failed, some of them dramatically, such as the 2013 $1 billion income tax increase that lost two-to-one after proponents spent $10 million in a mostly one-sided campaign.
Just last year, two initiatives were defeated to raise taxes for more education funding and for education and roads.
Coloradans are generous at the local level with their tax dollars, but after a decade of repeated failures with income, sales and now TABOR, a presumption of opposition now exists against state revenue increase measures, tax or TABOR overrides. Proponents of the next effort should face a higher level of skepticism from prospective donors and endorsees that the effort will be different than the last five. They have lost in high turnout (2018) and low turnout (2013) elections, years when partisan races are not on the ballot, and years when Democrats swept the partisan elections.
As I said in the Denver Post, before proponents mount up for another run, “They should consider an argument they may hear frequently next year: What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?”