In the only state-wide tax increase on any state's ballot this year, Colorado voters yesterday offered a resounding "No!".
Proposition 103 would have raised the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5 percent, and the state sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent, expecting to extract about $3 billion from Coloradoans over five years with the money earmarked for public education. The measure's supporters -- primarily teachers' unions -- outraised (and presumably outspent) its opponents by about 20-to-1.
Nevertheless, Prop 103 lost by a stunning margin of almost 28 percent, roughly 64 percent against to 36 percent for, with only two percent of the ballots left to be counted.
(I was a vociferous opponent of 103 on my blog and my radio show and am very pleased with the outcome.)
Although several small counties have not yet reported, at this point the measure has passed in only three of Colorado's 64 counties, and they are exactly the three one might expect: Boulder (the center for tax-hiking liberals in the state and the home of the state senator whose baby Prop 103 was), Pitkin (location of Aspen), and San Miguel (location of Telluride.) Even in the perennially Democratic Denver, Prop 103 failed by seven percent.
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.
In another demonstration of common sense, Denver voters rejected, by about a 65-35 vote, Initiative 300 which, as the Denver Post explained, "would require 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." The measure was brought by a feminist group which really wanted to give women extra days off to deal with anything from "female issues" to marital troubles; they had to write the ballot initiative to offer the same benefits to men, which I'm sure irked the man-haters greatly. The measure was opposed by just about everyone, including Democrat Mayor of Denver Michael Hancock and Democrat Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper.
Elsewhere, in an experiment in socialism which I predict is doomed to be a most expensive failure, Boulder voters approved, by a 52 percent to 48 percent vote, a measure which will allow the city to sever its ties with the local electric power utility and set up a city-owned utility. A companion measure which slightly increased a utility-related tax passed by 141 votes out of more than 26,000 votes cast. Can you imagine a bunch of far-left radical environmentalists (i.e. Boulder city government) who never met a carbon tax they didn't like (or any other tax) running an electric utility? As the maxim goes, people get the government they deserve.
Separate from the through-the-looking-glass world of Boulder (and its upper-income microcosms of Aspen and Telluride), Colorado voters demonstrated not just common sense on some of the biggest ballot issues this year, but a fairly resounding opposition to the size, cost, and intrusiveness of government. If these results have the implications I think they have for 2012 elections, and if the "purple" Colorado represents the thinking of voters in other swing states around the nation, then unless things change a lot in the economy in the next year, the 2012 elections will be an anti-Democrat (even if not really pro-Republican) tsunami which could make 2010 look tame (in much the same way that 2008 made 2006 look tame for the Democrats.)
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