Millions being spent on Amendment 66

By Megan Schrader Updated: October 28, 2013 at 7:49 am • Published: October 28, 2013 | 7:40 am 0

Voters have just over a week to make up their minds on a $950 million income tax increase for education, and the proponents of Amendment 66 don't plan to let their guard down.

Their campaign - Colorado Commits to Kids - has spent $4.5 million to get its message across on TV and radio and doorbelling in neighborhoods.

Another $3.3 million was still in the campaign's coffers as of Oct. 15, and the financial report required to be released Monday before midnight will show final expenditures leading up to Election Day on Nov. 5.

"We are trying to get our message about smaller class sizes and more one-on-one attention to as many Coloradans as we possibly can," said Curtis Hubbard, spokesman for Colorado Commits to Kids.

"We are advertising on television, through outreach in the field and meeting and greeting people at more than 300 events throughout the state," he said.

In sharp contrast, the group opposing Amendment 66 - Coloradans for Real Education Reform - has raised $10,700.

"I think the campaign is doing a good job despite being outspent a billion to one," said Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, which has contributed another $3,800 to the campaign in in-kind donations.

"We are not going to win on the airways, we are not going to win on the money," he said.

Caldara, through the Independence Institute and a nonprofit called Kids are First, has purchased some television time for advertisements and a ticker on the website kidsarefirst.org says the group has raised almost $700,000.

"It's a project of the Independence Institute to raise awareness of the amount we are already spending on education," Caldara said.

The ads do not mention Amendment 66, but rather talk about how money is being wasted on administration and is otherwise misspent.

On YouTube the group's videos have about 1,800 views.

Comparatively, one video from Colorado Commits to Kids - coloradocommits.com - has more than 60,000 views.

Hubbard said because the money being spent by the opposition campaign isn't being disclosed through a traditional campaign committee, it's impossible to gauge what the opposition has spent, or where the money has come from.

"Our campaign finance reports are all publicly disclosed as required by law," Hubbard said.

"And we're pleased with the support we have received both within Colorado and nationally for an education reform plan that will be a national model.," he said.

Caldara countered that Hubbard's campaign finance reports show a campaign being run by teachers' unions.

Hubbard acknowledged that the Colorado Education Association and the National Education Association each donated $2 million to Colorado Commits to Kids, but said the campaign has a broad spectrum of donors, including Dick Monfort, owner of the Colorado Rockies.

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Megan Schrader

The Gazette

719-286-0644

Twitter: @CapitolSchrader

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THE TOP DONORS

Colorado Commits to Kids

- National Education Association, $2 million

- Colorado Education Association, $2 million

- Pat Stryker, $825,000

- Gary Community Investment Co., $700,000

- Education Reform Now, $500,000

- Ben Walton, $500,000

- David Merage, $254,313

- Rose Community Foundation, $200,000

- Paul Tudor Jones, $125,000

- The Colorado Health Foundation, $100,000

Coloradans for Real Education Reform

- Russell Haas, $700

- Independence Institute (monetary and non-monetary), $11,600

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