Why Colorado’s Prop 103, A Proposal to Raise Income and Sales Taxes, Failed Miserably Last Tuesday

Colorado’s Proposition 103 went down to a resounding defeat last Tuesday. The vote was 65% against, 35% in favor. Any election that is decided one way or another by more than 60%  in these times is nothing short of a landslide. The proponents of Prop 103 (i.e., the teachers’ union) wanted to raise Colorado’s state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5 percent, and the state sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent. They hoped to extract about $3 billion from taxpayers over five years for “the children”, i.e., public education defined as teachers and administrators and not children.  [“the children” is just the prop they always use). The money-bags (teachers’ union again) outspent their opponents (taxpayers to be fleeced) by about 20-to-1.

Denver voters also seem to be coming to their senses. They rejected, by nearly the same 65%-35% margin, Initiative 300 which would have required Denver businesses to give workers one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work, with the amount capped at nine sick days annually for companies with 10 or more employees and five sick days annually for smaller businesses. This was a feminist movement initiative intended to enable women to deal with “female issues” and marital problems.  They had to write it in such a way that it covered men as well.  No matter, the voters were having none of it.  I guess voters weren’t fooled by the feminist rhetoric and understood that such a move would have forced businesses out of Denver and into the suburbs. That’s exactly what’s happened in Chicago.

Here is Glenn Reynolds in the Sunday Washington Examiner on Colorado’s Prop 103:

In Colorado, a tax-increase effort, massively supported (to the tune of about 20 to 1 in terms of spending) by teachers unions, failed miserably. Not only did it lose by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, it failed to carry a majority even in heavily Democratic Denver. (It barely eked out a majority in Colorado’s farthest-left enclave of Boulder County.)

As Colorado talk-radio host Ross Kaminsky blogged, “The wide margin of defeat for Proposition 103 could only happen with a substantial majority — something on the order of two-thirds — of unaffiliated (independent) voters opposing the measure, something which portends well for Republican hopes in 2012 elections.” This despite the fact that Colorado went for Obama in 2008.

More troubling still for the Obama Administration is that the rhetoric of the tax increase’s supporters sounded much like that coming from the Obama camp — lots of talk about “investments” and lots of pictures of children. But taxpayers didn’t buy it.

Why not? Perhaps because the past couple of years have demonstrated, in a fashion hard to miss, that no matter what politicians promise, new government spending seems, somehow, to wind up in the pockets of politicians’ cronies.

So when “new revenues” are sold as “investments in the community,” voters hear instead “taking my money to give it to your buddies and buy votes.” Not surprisingly, this doesn’t sell.

Indeed, though education is often used to sell tax increases, that approach now seems to be foundering on a lack of results. Nearly every voter knows that spending on education at all levels, though perennially characterized as inadequate, has in fact grown enormously over past decades, but without any visible result.

So, despite vast increases in spending, few would argue that students graduating from high school are better educated today than they were 50 years ago, and few believe that colleges have improved at the same rate that tuitions have gone up, if, indeed, they have improved at all in terms of education.

Read the whole thing.

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