Amendments 60 & 61, Proposition 101: Is $6 million not enough to defeat them?

Opponents of three tax-slashing ballot initiatives say their polling shows that the measures might actually be approved by voters -- despite a multi-million-dollar ad blitz starting this weekend designed to crush them. Coloradans for Responsible Reform recently spent $250,000 on polling, only to discover that voter opinions are running 48 to 57 percent in favor of Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101.

"Chances are very good that two out of three of these will pass," John Lay of CFRR told a group of alarmed health care and human services officials in El Jebel, according to this article in the Aspen Daily News. Lay urged his listeners to each explain to twenty others that "this is not politics, this is devastating to the state of Colorado."

Amendment 60 would reduce property tax rates and require school districts to reduce their dependence on property taxes, drawing more of their revenue from the state budget. Amendment 61 would prohibit "future borrowing" in any form by state government. Proposition 101 would drastically reduce auto registration fees and taxes, telecommunication charges and, over several years, the state income tax.

Predicting economic ruin if even one of the three passed, a wide array of opponents have lined up under the CFRR banner to defeat the measures, including the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (which has donated $500,000 to date), the Colorado Education Association ($600,000) and bond dealers and construction interests. According to its latest reports, the group has raised a staggering $5.78 million, much of which will be spent on radio, television and print advertising in the next few weeks.

In addition to economic arguments, the opponents plan to blast backers of 60-61-101 for hiding in the shadows. In June, an administrative law judge fined three of the listed proponents of the measures for violating state campaign finance laws -- and concluded that tax-hater Douglas Bruce was deeply involved in behind-the-scenes efforts to prepare and promote the issues. The opponents are still battling to depose Bruce, who's denied that he's some kind of evil mastermind behind the campaign.

To learn more about the opponents' plans and hear their first radio ad (soon to be saturating the airwaves) denouncing the "Ugly Three," go here. For the "tax relief" arguments pushing the measures, go here.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast