You probably won’t be reading much about it, and don’t look for the results to get a lot of airtime on CNN or MSNBC, but Colorado held a referendum on taxes on Tuesday. The tax increasers got blown away.
By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, voters rejected a $2.9 billion income and sales tax increase ostensibly earmarked for education. Proposition 103 would have raised the income tax rate to 5% from 4.63% and the sales tax to 3% from 2.9%.
Supporters claimed the tax would merely have been “temporary” and was needed to make up for recent cuts in state spending for K-12 and college education. Both are familiar ploys to sell tax hikes that fund higher spending and typically become permanent.
The education gambit was a sneaky attempt to undermine the state’s landmark and popular Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which was approved by voters in the 1990s and has slowed the growth of government. Tabor, as it is known, caps the state budget to the growth of population and inflation each year while rebating revenues above that limit to taxpayers. The union scheme was to erode the spending caps by exempting education spending and earmarking new tax revenues to schools, which already command 40% of the state’s general fund budget.