EDITORIAL: Don't ignore big tax hike proposal

By: The Gazette editorial
June 18, 2016 Updated: June 18, 2016 at 10:28 am
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A silent menace threatens to destroy Colorado's economy. It seems so ridiculous few are taking it more seriously than the threat of a direct meteor strike. It's called Amendment 69, and it is time to get serious about defeating it.

The proposal offers universal health coverage to all Coloradans. If properly marketed, the entitlement crowd could vote for a perceived handout of health care. Proponents say it "covers everyone," "improves quality" and "increases savings."

The proposal is so far off in left field its opponents include Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter. They and other liberal Democrats oppose the measure because it's extreme and reckless. It would double the size of the state budget, impose jobs-killing taxes on businesses and tax those who maintain their jobs out of house and home. Employers would get a new 6.67 percent payroll tax, while workers would pay another 3.33 percent - a whopping 10 percent additional tax on payroll income.

With this massive tax hike, businesses would leave Colorado in droves. Many that are not mobile, and depend on a particular location to survive, would simply go out of business. Few businesses have profit margins of 10 percent, so it's easy to imagine the devastation of a 10 percent overhead increase.

Sole proprietors would be doubly doomed, as they would get hit with payroll taxes and an additional 10 percent on nonpayroll income.

The proposal is so threatening to businesses that a poll of nearly 5,000 Colorado members of Colorado's the National Federation of Independent Businesses found 98 percent oppose Amendment 69. Only 2 percent answered "yes" to the question: Should Amendment 69, which amends the Colorado Constitution by raising taxes $25 billion to create a new healthcare financing system available to all Colorado residents, be approved by Colorado voters in November?"

But here's the dangerous part. A Magellan Strategies poll found approval of 55 percent if the measure is explained in the language of backers, rather than as a tax increase. That means the measure could pass if backers find enough money to bombard the public with a faulty message.

Those interested in learning more about the pros and cons of Amendment 69 should attend one of three debates hosted cooperatively by the Independence Institute and the Steamboat Institute. Health care economist Linda Gorman and Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, will argue against the measure. Former state Sen. Jeanne Nicholson and author T.R. Reid will defend it. For more information, visit: https://goo.gl/mpRj5K

Conventional wisdom says voters won't go for a jobs-killing tax that would double the state government's budget. That assumption is the best hope proponents have. They might just catch opponents asleep at the wheel. Besides, this is Colorado - where anything can happen.

The Gazette editorial board

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