We stand corrected. We got a little ahead of ourselves and predicted the demise of Rollie Heath’s boneheaded tax hike scheme a few months before it will actually happen. We had proclaimed Rollie Heath's tax hike initiative was unlikely to even make the ballot, but with yesterday's announcement that Heath turned in 142,000 signatures for Initiative 25 it is looking likely that the initiative will, in fact, make the ballot.
When we predicted the early demise of Initiative 25 we didn’t realize they were paying Bangladesh garment worker wages for signatures.
To be honest, we might have let the unbelievable unforced errors by Rollie’s Tax Hike team cloud our judgment. We thought there was no way a political operation that kidnaps children for press conferences and tries to sneak political propaganda into back-to-school packets would be able to manage the challenge of signature gathering.
What we should have remembered is that people will sign any petition. Pedestrians on the 16th and Pearl Street Malls have become so accustomed to being harassed by the $8/hour clipboard cavalry that they will sign anything, just out of habit.
But much like Rollie Heath, after today Initiative 25’s best days will be behind it. There is no doubt it will fail.
Nobody votes to raise their taxes in a recession. For the voters that don’t automatically recoil at such economic insanity, independent studies showing up to 119,700 jobs could be lost if it passes will help push Heath’s initiative toward certain defeat.
While Heath hemmed and hawed at the press conference when Joe Hanel of the Durango Herald asked what percent of signatures were gathered by paid canvassers, he ultimately coughed up it was 2/3. We guess it’s probably higher in reality, but regardless it makes the number of signatures gathered only a reflection of the capital expended, not support garnered.
As previous failed initiatives have demonstrated, signature gathering and vote gathering are two very different beasts.
Just look at a couple of recent examples from the dustbin of failed ballot initiatives, when only 74k, not 86k signatures were required:
- Amendment 52 — Oil and Gas funds (2008): 137,341 (Lost 36-64)
- Amendment 61 — State & Local Debt (2010): 138,867 (Lost 27-73)
- Amendment 47 — Right to Work (2008): 133,000 (Lost 44-56)
- Amendment 48 — Personhood (2008): 131,000 (Lost 27-73)
One other notable initiative that springs to mind — Amendment 59 from 2008. Despite nearly 20 times the funding Initiative 25 has so far, and the full-on support of then-Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Amendment 59 went down in flames, losing 45-55.
It wasn’t even advertised as a tax increase, and still voters rejected it. More on Amendment 59 in the coming days and weeks.
With all that electoral history going for it, Initiative 25 also suffers from a Governor who has publicly dismissed its chances and open opposition from groups on the left for not going far enough.
We might have gotten the timing wrong, but there is no question Rollie Heath’s tax hike is guaranteed to fail.
It’s just going to take a little longer to die.