ELECTIONS-06302020-KS-033

Election judges at the Denver Elections Division receive, prepare, and process ballots on June 30, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. There are fewer judges working in the normally filled rooms to maintain physical distancing, and voting stations are cleaned continuously as a precaution due to COVID-19.

A ballot measure to tap the rich and lower taxes on those who make less won't make it on the November ballot, proponents of Initiative 271 said Friday.

Monday is the deadline for those who want to get questions before voters to turn in at least 124,632 signatures from registered voters. A number of ballot proposals were stymied by the coronavirus pandemic, since signatures had to be collected in-person.

Initiative 271 would have lowered the rate to 4.58% for those earning less than $250,000 and raise it to 7% on earnings above that up to $500,000.

"When we began signature gathering in early March, we chose to rely on our volunteers to lift Initiative #271 onto the ballot," Fair Tax Colorado said in a statement. "Knowing real reform starts with the people, we built our signature gathering campaign on the enthusiasm and dedication of these volunteers. We were heartened by the popularity of our proposal and the excitement we saw from our growing base of supporters, but we could not overcome the effects of a global pandemic and a Supreme Court decision that did away with a viable alternative to traditional signature collection.

The proposal was aimed at netting about $2 billion a year for the state to balance the state budget. Half the money would go to education and the other half to support the growing economy, including transportation, higher education, public health or housing.

Fair Tax Colorado cited the hurdles of the health crisis in announcing the demise.

"Unfortunately, the extraordinary obstacles we faced this year hindered our ability to gather enough signatures to meet current constitutional qualification requirements," explained the group of left-leaning organizations behind the measure, led by the Colorado Fiscal Institute.

"The struggles of middle class families and workers with low incomes (and exacerbated by our current economic situation) is exactly why we need tax reform in Colorado. Without it, wealthy corporations and ultra-rich Coloradans will continue to avoid paying their fair share, causing irreparable damage to our communities and deepening inequities across the state."

A counter measure, called the Real Fair Tax, is expected to make the ballot. Colorado Rising State Action turned in about 196,000 signatures Thursday that are pending verification in the Secretary of State's Office.

Initiative 306 would ask voters to reduce the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%.

“This group was organizing for well over a year and couldn’t get it done,” Colorado Rising State Action executive director Michael Fields said in a statement Friday. "Coloradans clearly don’t want a tax hike. Period​."

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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