Despite Massive Campaign Spending, Education Amendment Loses Big

Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected an income tax hike to pay for K-12 schools Tuesday, despite a campaign that spent more than $10 million to persuade voters.

But voters did agree to levy hefty excise and sales taxes on legal marijuana – and up to $40 million of that money will go to pay for K-12 school construction projects. Proposition AA passed with about 65 percent of the vote.
More than 65 percent of voters opposed Amendment 66, which  would have raised about $1 billion a year for public schools through a two-tiered income tax hike. That compares with a 64 percent rejection of Proposition 103, a 2011 proposal to temporarily raise income taxes for K-12. The measure was supported by Gov. John Hickenlooper and had many other endorsements.
Teachers’ unions spent $4 million to promote the measure, while New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation and Microsoft philanthropist Melinda Gates each kicked in $1 million. Fort Collins heiress Pat Stryker donated $825,000, and the Gary Community Investment Co. gave $700,000.
It’s likely the group collected more money after the most recent reporting period ended Oct. 23, but that information won’t be reported until early December.
Much of the money went to advertising via television and fliers, as well as door-to-door and telephone canvassing.
Opponents of 66 raised only about $41,000, according to available reports.
The Independence Institute ran ads opposing tax hikes for eduction, but by avoiding mentioning the measure specifically, the group is exempt from state requirements to report contributions or spending.  The libertarian think tank spent $52,679 for 43 spots on KUSA in Denver, according to a Federal Communications Commission filing.

The Proposition AA campaign passed by a large margin despite virtually no advertising or campaigning. Proponents raised about $67,000 through Oct. 23, while opponents raised about $3,800.

The measure allows taxes of up to 25 percent to be levied at the wholesale and retail level for marijuana products in addition to the state’s 2.9 percent sales tax. Several municipalities, including Denver, Boulder and Littleton, also voted to levy local taxes on legal pot.

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