Amendment 66 results: Income tax hike loses big

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DENVER -- Amendment 66, a major overhaul of education financing that would have provided nearly $1 billion in additional revenue for Colorado schools, was resoundingly defeated Tuesday night, as voters were unwilling to approve the two-tiered income tax necessary to fund the reform model.

The first batch of returns from the Secretary of State's office, released just after polls closed at 7 p.m., showed the measure losing by a two-to-one margin.

With 1.2 million votes counted, Amendment 66 was losing with 66 percent of voters opposed and 34 percent of voters in support.

The Yes on 66 campaign was discouraged at low voter turnout over the weekend, and at polls showing independent voters rejecting the tax increase.

The proposal would have done away with the current 4.63 percent flat income tax rate, replacing it with a 5 percent rate on income up to $75,000 and a 5.9 percent rate on all income above that.

"It's just the wrong time to be asking people to give the government more of their money," one campaign operative told FOX31 Denver, citing the recent focus on problems with the Affordable Care Act and a dysfunctional Congress as reasons why taxpayers might have been unwilling to fund the initiative.

Opponents of Amendment 66 were dramatically outspent -- the Yes on 66 campaign raised more than $10 million overall -- and they're relishing the apparent victory.

“Colorado families spoke loud and clear,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “We need substantive outcome-driven reforms to the educational system before we ask families and small businesses to foot a major tax bill. Governor Hickenlooper has continued his march leftward, and Coloradans have clearly told him today that he’s lost his ‘moderate’ status.

"The proponents spent well in excess of $10 million to market this tax increase to Coloradans and the stunning margins of failure show that never has so much been spent by so few to accomplish so little."

Coupled with the successful recall elections that saw two Democratic state lawmakers booted from office in September, a backlash for their support of controversial gun control laws, Tuesday night's defeat of Amendment 66 makes two defeats in a row for a Democratic machine in Colorado that rarely loses.

"It's not just taxes. It's not just the recalls. Either one is isolated," said Rob Witwer, a former Republican state lawmaker from Evergreen. "Together, it spells backlash to the Democrats' overreach."

The new rates would have meant an additional $950 million annually in school funding, going to full-day kindergarten across the state and to set aside additional per pupil funding for students who don’t speak English or come from poor families.

Even with Colorado ranked near the bottom when it comes to per pupil spending, the tax hike was a tough sell.

The Yes on 66 campaign, thanks to late $1 million contributions from Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, has raised more than $10 million to try and convince voters that the proposal means “Big Change, Small Price,” as its television commercials conclude.

Opponents have raised almost nothing to fight Amendment 66, and yet supporters of the measure still believe they’re the ones fighting an uphill battle.

Both sides were nervous Monday night, even slightly pessimistic about their prospects. The Yes on 66 campaign is discouraged that only 847,660 votes have been cast statewide as of Monday morning — they’d hoped to be over 1 million at this point — with registered Republicans having turned in roughly 76,000 more ballots than registered Democrats.



  • keith moon

    No on 66, more taxes is not what we need right now and 66 is a test to see if we the taxpayers want to pay more. Enough is enough!

  • john swanson

    Hey Bloomberg,,,,since you’re willing to spend so much money out here,,,,can I interest you in a sea shore condo or two?

  • fed up

    Why should we pay more?? We dont need a tax increase, we NEED new management.. Throwing more of our money at the issue isnt going to fix anything until they learn to run a tighter, more efficient system.

  • Worker as school district

    I work at a school district. Until they stop wasting so much of my tax money and show they can spend wisely there is no way folks should give them more.

  • James Grisier

    The premis to make significant change to education funding was good, except the amendment reached way too far by weakening Tabor and forcing ever increasing sales, property and income taxes on the people to manage basic government services outside of K thru 12. It really is too bad that those most interested in change cannot control their urge and limit their desire to control. We see it frequently in ballot measures on the Western Slope where , no matter what the cause, it is always coupled with a huge “trust me” from the government. Much has been lost due to this lack of discipline.

  • Dimun

    The problem is over the last several years the state has taken money away from the schools and now they want to raise our taxes to put that money back?? What sense does that make? Give the money the state took away back to the schools if they want change. A bunch of idiots running the state and country for that matter.

  • webo

    Hey Dimun. Not true. Schools have been getting plenty of money. The managers and school boards are just are wasteful bureaucrats.

  • mrlauderdale

    I’m a liberal and I voted against 66 because I don’t want my more of my tax dollars going to fund education for the kids of a bunch of knuckle-draggers in areas east of Denver. We voted for our own school-funding tax hike last year, so we’re good. The rest of the state can s*ck it.

  • Liam

    The liberals just want the rest of us to pay the bills for all of the money wasted and diverted over the years. No thanks. Time for the liberals to go-they’ve had their chance and have brought Colorado to new lows.

  • Robert P Hileman

    Not that this losing is a bad thing, but once again why is anyone allowed to donate large sums of money? Shouldn’t anyone who does not live in Colorado not be allowed to influence our elections? With the recent shutdown, it reinforces the need for campaign reform. Our government needs to be about ideas NOT DOLLARSS

  • Kellyn

    Yipeeeee from the bloated Soviet Socialists Republic of California! Way to go Colorado. Lean & Smart. 👍👍👍

  • Doug

    This is sad. People need to visit the schools and see what is going on.
    The are good programs getting cut and our state is 47 in the nation on
    Spending on education. People of this state like to blame the the state officials. When a good idea comes to help schools and get programs back to HELP the students we turn our back. Get with it people,

  • Bubs

    The problem, Doug, is that this was not a good idea. This is simple overreach of the government to expand, yet again, the scope of what we should consider “normal” governmental services.

  • Sue

    Increased spending on education does not necessarily equate to a BETTER education. These things are frequently confused. Glad Colorado is showing some fortitude here, and in other battles. Also, I believe that someone above had a good question about how can someone from another state throw money in on a campaign in an attempt to sway the outcome?

  • cj

    What I feel is sad is that the 66 supporters now bleat that we don’t want to support our children. This really didn’t come down to a vote ‘for the children’, it was a vote against a huge percentage increase in taxes with no confidence that it would actually get spent where it was supposed to be spent. Make the increase smaller, or incremental over time, and have a clear, unbreakable commitment to where the money will go, and you’ll have something that will pass.

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