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Why did the ballot measures fail?

Traveling throughout the Roaring Fork Valley in the days leading up to the November 5 election, I was impressed by the slick signs trumpeting two of this year’s ballot issues in Pitkin County: “Vote YES on Amendment 66” and “Vote YES on Questions 4C and 4D.”  Amendment 66 was, of course, the statewide financing proposal for public education that would have raised the income tax rate for all Coloradans, by 8% for those making $75,000 or less a year and by 27% for people making above that amount.  Questions 4C and 4D were about a new recreation center in the mid-valley Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District and steep property tax hikes to finance and maintain it.

It was clear that the proponents of these two tax measures far outspent the opponents and if spending were any predictor of results, the two measures would have passed by overwhelming margins.  Instead they failed by overwhelming margins, in the case of Amendment 66 by 66% of the vote statewide (60% in Pitkin County) and for the Crown Mountain District initiatives by an even more astounding 72%.

Why did these ballot measures fail?  Does it mean, as supporters might put it, that Coloradans are selfish when it comes to providing quality education for all children in the state or that residents of the mid-valley are indifferent to providing recreational opportunities for children and gathering places for seniors? 

I think not.  There are probably a variety of reasons the measures failed, but the results may have reflected above all a concern that tax-supported government programs be necessary and effective for the amount of tax money involved.  On Amendment 66, the proponents failed to make the case that the money to be spent would produce better educational results.  Even if inclined to support better schools, as most Coloradans are, voters wanted to know what the additional funding would buy, how the schools would improve, what the metrics would be for determining effectiveness.  After all, a lot of tax money already goes to public education in the United States and we still appear to be falling behind other countries in educational achievement.  With respect to the Crown Mountain District votes, the case was not made that the proposed recreational facilities were needed and that the increased taxes were justified.

The concerns about need and government effectiveness may have been amplified in the minds of voters by the unfortunate rollout of ObamaCare, the timing of which coincided with the period leading up to the November 5 election.  But more on ObamaCare in a later installment!


Frieda Wallison is Chair of the Pitkin County Republicans.

Credit Frieda Wallison
Frieda Wallison

A graduate of Smith College and Harvard Law School, she practiced law for more than 30 years in New York City and Washington, D.C. as a partner in major law firms, before retiring for the good life in the Roaring Fork Valley. Beyond serving as Chair of the Pitkin County Republicans, Wallison is Republican Chair of the Third Congressional District in Colorado and a member of the Colorado Republican Party Executive Committee. She is also the President of the Snowmass/Capitol Creek Caucus and a member of Aspen Rotary.  In her spare time, Wallison is a real estate developer in the mid-valley.  She is married to Peter Wallison, the Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and they are parents of three and grandparents of five.

You can contact her at fkwallison@me.com

Her personal Facebook page address is facebook.com/frieda.wallison

You can find out more about the Pitkin County Republicans here: http://pitkinpolitics.org/

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