Tax-issue backers raise $1.6M in two weeks
Initiative aims to fund public schools; donations now total $3.2M
The campaign to persuade voters to increase income taxes to fund public schools collected $1.6 million over the past two weeks, most of which came from people in the state’s business community.
And that’s an important point, say proponents of Amendment 66, which would create a two-tiered income tax rate system and is designed to raise an additional $950 million for K-12 spending.
The money brings the group’s total donations to about $3.2 million. That compared to the $10,000 raised by the group opposing the measure, Coloradans for Real Education Reform.
Gov. John Hickenlooper said the donations show there is wide support for the measure, but Jon Caldara, president of the free-market think-tank, the Independence Institute, said it’s more of a testament to the governor’s fundraising abilities.
“The man has pixie dust when it comes to raising taxes and debt,” said Caldara, who gave the opponents that $10,000. “Obviously his fundraising ability has not gone away, so the question is, will Colorado accept the lovable, quirky charm that Hickenlooper used to pass some of those things in the past (as Denver mayor), especially one that’s so blatantly unfair as this?”
Under the measure, taxpayers who earn less than $75,000 a year would pay a 5 percent tax rate, while those who earn more would pay 5.9 percent. Currently, all taxpayers pay a flat rate of 4.63 percent of their taxable income.
“What we’re going to do with the money is we are going to invest in a campaign that reaches as many Coloradans as possible in order to enlighten them on what we can do if Colorado is willing to make an investment in their schools,” said Curtis Hubbard, spokesman for the proponents.
Good luck, says Caldara.
“When you look into it, you see this is a really unfair tax increase,” Caldara said. “I cannot see that Colorado wants to raise taxes 27 percent, crippling small businesses for something that’s so blatantly unfair as this package.”
But if the measure is so bad for businesses, large or small, why are so many of them supporting it, Hubbard asks.
A large part of the coalition Hickenlooper spoke of includes numerous businesses, he said.
“They can argue that it’s going to hurt small business people, but our view is that this is a small investment that we’re asking everyone who pays individual income tax to make so we have smaller classes and more one-on-one attention for students,” Hubbard said.