November 3, 2013 Updated: November 3, 2013 at 10:05 am
Just as Coloradans are trying to rebound from a lingering recession, with household incomes 7.2 percent below prerecession levels, unions want the largest tax increase in Colorado history. Those who haven't voted, or were planning to sit out this election, should vote "no" on Amendment 66 and turn in their ballots first thing Monday. Tuesday is the last day to vote.
The Oct. 23 Wall Street Journal said it best, explaining the tax increase would "raise taxes and unleash a brave new era of liberal governance."
Leading proponents of 66, who have met with The Gazette's editorial board, claim it's about the children.
"It's real purpose is to repeal restraints on tax increases and open the door for even higher taxes and more spending on everything," wrote the Wall Street Journal's Wiley N. Jones.
The runaway spending would come at an enormous cost to Coloradans, especially middle class families and those who own small businesses.
Colorado has long had a state flat tax, which taxes incomes at 4.63 percent. Union leaders and big-government liberals despise flat taxes because they are politically difficult to raise. Increasing a flat tax a percentage or two raises taxes on everyone, including those otherwise stand to benefit from redistribution schemes.
Amendment 66 would eliminate the flat tax. Today's 4.63 percent tax rate would go to 5 percent for those earning less than $75,000 and 5.9 percent for those who earn $75,000 or more - an astonishing 26.6 percent increase.
If the flat tax goes away, watch out. Big-government liberals will sell the benefits of soak-the-rich tax hikes to everyone earning less than a solid middle-class wage, pitting one big portion of Colorado against another.
Amendment 66 would pull nearly $1 billion a year out of Colorado households and small businesses, devastating the ability of struggling families to make ends meet. Small businesses would have less capital with which to grow and create jobs.
Don't take our word for it. The University of Colorado Leeds School of Business studied the proposal and determined it would cause a net drain on the economy that would impede private-sector job creation. The university study also found almost no evidence that increases in per pupil spending have improved Colorado test scores or graduation rates. One school district the study examined enjoyed a 36 percent increase in per pupil funding from 2007 to 2012. The district's test scores dropped by 8.3 percent.
In addition, reducing the business community's ability to grow, Amendment 66 would make it even more difficult for Colorado to attract good employers from overtaxed environs, such as California. Our neighbor to the north, Wyoming, has no income tax. Given a tax rate of 5.9 percent in Colorado Springs or Denver, Cheyenne might seem like a nice place to set up shop.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, "Kansas and Oklahoma are cutting tax rates."
A study for the American Legislative Exchange Council found that "High-tax states created one net new job for every four in states without an income tax from 2002-2012."
Amendment 66 mandates at least 43 percent of all Colorado excise, income and sales taxes must forever be spent on education. It's this part of the proposal that raises red flags about fungibility.
"Funding for Medicaid, roads and other state priorities won't decrease, so earmarking more for education would increase pressure for another tax increase," the Journal wrote.
As the tax would burden middle-class households, it would take more from many of their districts than it would return. Schools in El Paso County's D-38, for example, would see a return of 42 cents on every dollar taxed out of the district by Amendment 66.
It's "an attempt to bail out Denver schools by taking more cash from the rest of the state," explains the Wall Street Journal.
Whatever it takes Monday, make the effort to vote "no" on Amendment 66.