Earlier this week, the Peak reported on the 25 ballot initiatives submitted relating to the funding of Democratic Sen. Mike Johnston’s education reform bill, SB13-213. While its unclear which of the tax increases Democratic Sens. Mike Johnston and Rollie Heath, specifically, are supporting to pay for their massive education overhaul, it would appear that three separate groups are behind the ballot initiatives.
One tranche of tax increases was introduced by Colorado Forum, which “seeks to promote consensus in the community on enlightened public policy”, according to its web site. While its members appear to be primarily from the business community, its leader, Gail Klapper has a political background. She was a White House Fellow under President Gerald Ford. Oddly, in her Colorado Forum bio she leaves off her time with Governor Dick Lamm, on whose cabinet she served (her Forum bio mentions that she served a Colorado Governor, but only her Forbes bio mentions which Governor).
Additionally, her political donation records show that she sides primarily with the left. Over the past decade, she and her husband, Jack, or her company, The Klapper Firm, have donated over $5,500 to primarily Democratic causes and candidates, according to TRACER.
The next largest group of initiatives were filed by “dynamic duo” Bruce Broderius, a former member of the Greeley School Board and longtime advocate for increased education funding (according to Ed News Colorado), and Colorado newcomer Kate Pettersen. Broderius, himself, has given several thousand dollars to political candidates and causes, mostly from the Democratic side. Pettersen, a relatively small donor – giving $50 here and there to Democratic candidates and causes, has made her presence known primarily as a “volunteer lobbyist” on education issues with Great Education Colorado.
Pettersen moved here from Bloomfield, Michigan about a year and a half ago. Quick tip, Kate: the way to make friends in a new city is not to levy a one billion dollar income tax increase on its residents. Here’s an excerpt from a Denver Post letter-to-the-editor she penned earlier this year:
“The public schools are not failing; we are failing our public schools. Our family would be more than happy to pay more in taxes for public education.”
It’s great to know that Pettersen has more disposable income than the rest of Colorado. After all, her husband is a pediatric cardiologist. Sounds like a profitable career path. Kate, there’s a box you can check on your taxes to pay more. We suggest that you use that. The rest of Colorado is simply trying to make ends meet.
Finally, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce has submitted Johnston’s bill in its entirety as a ballot initiative (without the funding component) in case the bill doesn’t make it through the legislature. Kelly Brough, the Chamber’s CEO, had served as the chief of staff for then-Mayor of Denver John Hickenlooper.
All of this is to point out that these initiatives are backed not by some bipartisan coalition, but a handful of Democrat hacks. Let’s keep this in mind as the initiatives advance in the process.