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Inside look: polling on Colo. tax hike shows a steep climb

Posted by Kelly Maher on April 1st, 2011
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Implying that only one of their separate tax proposals was bound for the Colorado ballot, state Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, said at a Feb. 28 press conference that he and Carol Hedges from the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute (CFPI) “talk about it all the time.” [The Hedges proposal has since been dropped; Heath's revised proposal is before the Title Setting Board next week.]

Heath’s comment that they “talk about it all the time” prompted me to file a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request of Heath’s written communications on the issue. In the hundreds of emails to Senator Heath on the issue, there was just a single email exchange between Heath and Hedges on Feb. 19.

However, the CORA did include February polling data, emailed to Heath from Tamra Ward, senior V.P. of public affairs and communications for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The poll results (which you can see for yourself at this link) don’t look good for the tax hikers. One of the questions referenced a $700 million increase in sales and income taxes to help fund K-12 and higher education in Colorado. The ‘No” response was 46% and the “Yes” response was 50%, which sounds close. However, a note with the poll stated: “Historical precedent suggests that ballot measures must poll at 58% YES or higher in early surveys for likely passage in a later November election.”

Marijo Rymer, executive director of The ARC of Colorado, referenced survey data on March 19 at a Colorado Democrats “Budget Listening Tour” stop in Denver [see video above].

“…That when you test the ballot language for the graduated income tax, as well as for Sen. Heath’s proposal, less than 50% – it’s roughly 46, 47% of voters – say they would support it, and that’s considering every classification of support. Metro Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Concern and Colorado Forum informed us last week, that they would start raising money – and they already have – to oppose any graduated income tax on this ballot in 2011.”

Rymer (who along with Hedges was backing the CFPI tax initiative) did not mention where those numbers came from or who conducted that poll.

Ward’s e-mails to Heath on March 4 included polling from two different surveys.

I asked Ward today about her exchange with Heath.

“We were going to do a poll about higher education funding anyway when Heath came out with his proposal,” Ward told me. “It was just good timing, so we decided to include a question specifically about Health’s initiative.”

I recently spoke Jon Caldara, president of the Golden-based Independence Institute, and asked him his take.

“At this point in the process, an initiative has to have around 60% positive polling results in order for it to be viable on the ballot,” he said. “It seems unlikely they will be successful in this endeavor if this is what the polling is looking like this early.”

Caldara is running his own initiative for the ballot to cut taxes. “People should have a choice,” he said. “They can vote to raise taxes with Health’s initiative, cut taxes with mine, or they can just leave it alone.”

Caldara said he has yet to conduct any polling on his proposed initiative.

I also asked Ward about the Chamber’s take on Heath’s revised ballot initiative proposal. [Heath’s initial proposal was a $1.6 billion tax increase, to sunset after three years. The revision would make the tax hikes permanent.]

“We don’t think now is an appropriate time to be making tax policy changes,” said Ward. “That includes both Heath’s proposal to raise taxes and Jon Caldara’s proposal to cut taxes.”

[Updated 4/2/11]

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Inside look: polling on Colo. tax hike shows a steep climb, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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  • Post by Kelly Maher on April 1st, 2011

2 Responses to “Inside look: polling on Colo. tax hike shows a steep climb”

  1. [...] General Daniel Domenico had a great idea. When the board was reviewing the final language for the tax increase initiative proposed by state Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, Domenico said he’d rather have all the zeros [...]

  2. [...] Ward, senior V.P. of public affairs and communications for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, who told me then… “We don’t think now is an appropriate time to be making tax policy changes,” [...]

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