Yesterday Colorado voters sent a strong message to their elected officials:
If 2008 was an election for change, Tuesday night was an election for no change — with Colorado voters rejecting tax hikes and ballot initiatives and refusing to overhaul school boards. Voters resoundingly shot down the only statewide ballot measure, which would have raised taxes for nearly $3 billion in school funding. And Denver voters said “no” to a plan to mandate sick leave for all workers — an initiative that many businesses, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock opposed. … Tuesday was a killing field for tax measures. Aurora voters rejected a $114 million tax increase for recreation centers, Douglas County voters said “no” to school tax increases, Cañon City voters rejected a tax for library improvements and Boulder voters appeared to be approving the creation of a municipal electricity utility but wouldn’t pass a tax hike to fund it. … With most ballots counted, the statewide Proposition 103 was losing with 64 percent of voters rejecting the measure to increase the state income tax as well as the sales-tax rate for K-12 education.
To begin with, it is false to claim that Colorado suffers from some kind of funding shortage for government. Not only has state spending grown relentlessly over the past ten years, including the current recession, but the state and local governments have also added employees throughout the tough economic times. There are more state and local government employees in Colorado today than there were in 2008. At the same time, in September 2011 Colorado had 113,500 fewer private jobs than in September 2008. Obviously, government needs to shrink when there are fewer private jobs to pay for government.
As this blog explained recently, Proposition 103 would have done nothing but harm to the Colorado economy. The state has a private jobs shortage of 386,000 just to maintain the current size of government with no tax increases. Taking $3 billion out of people’s pockets, which would have been the result of the proposition, would have created an even bigger private jobs shortage. Colorado voters did the right thing for themselves and their state.