The key to winning a tough ballot initiative is having a rhetorically-potent one sentence argument. Rollie Heath's argument: let us tax you more for schools.

The key to defeating a ballot initiative is to have a one-sentence argument almost as good as the proponents — not even necessarily better, just strong enough to create doubt.

Today, the opponents of Initiative 25, Rollie Heath's five-year $3 billion tax hike, found an argument that easily clears that bar: if approved, Heath's tax increase will kill 119,000 jobs.

This was the finding of an independent study by Eric Fruits of Economics International Corp and Portland State University:

"Earlier this year, Colorado Senator Rollie Heath proposed three education-funding initiatives for the November 2011 ballot. The proposed measures would raise the individual and corporate income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5 percent (an 8 percent increase) and increase the state sales tax rate from 2.9 percent to 3 percent (a 3 percent increase).  

…If passed, the measures constitute a potentially significant shift of resources from private hands to the public sector. Information from Colorado Legislative Council Staff suggests that the Heath Measures would increase state taxes by $536.1 million a year. A substantial portion of the Heath Measures’ increased taxes would be borne by Coloradans earning less than $100,000 a year."

The press release we received about this study included a chart on job losses, which we've recreated in easier-to-read format for our readers. Here is what happens to job losses in Colorado for each year of the tax hike:

This kind of data seems like it could be used pretty effectively in an ad blitz against the initiative, though we wonder if it will even be necessary to put much effort into opposing it. After all, Heath can't even seem to get any major Democrats on board with him.

Tax hike ballot initiatives always have an uphill battle, especially in a weak economy. Studies like this just serve to hammer home what everyone, including Governor Hickenlooper, already knows: raising taxes kills jobs.  

For more on the study click here.