When Governor Hickenlooper was caught lying to national reporters about what Prop AA did – the marijuana tax that will partially go to fund schools – it underscored a little covered aspect of the tax increase debate.
There are two tax increases on the statewide ballot this November and they both fund education. Prop AA, or as we like to call it, Bongs for Books, would tax recreational marijuana through a special sales tax and an excise tax, with the first $40 million going to school construction. Amendment 66 would raise income taxes by a billion dollars a year with money also going to education.
Therein lies the rub for Amendment 66 proponents.
Prop AA allows voters a way to support education spending without taking on the burden of a huge income tax increase. That’s what bothers supporters of Amendment 66.
It bothers supporters like Governor Hickenlooper – who has fundraised for both tax campaigns – so much that they resort to lying about Prop AA.
When Hickenlooper was caught lying and saying that Prop AA doesn’t go to public education, his spokesman awkwardly tried to spin what education spending is:
“Public education is not the same as school construction,” Brown told FOX31 Denver.
If building schools isn’t public education spending, what is? Teacher pensions (which Hick admits Amendment 66 could be spent on)? How is building classrooms not money in the classroom?
It is, and that’s a problem for Hickenlooper and his Amendment 66 pals.
Hickenlooper’s lie backfired. Rather than obscure the support Prop AA provides to schools – which has received very little coverage to date – he highlighted that aspect to voters right as ballots were being mailed out.
The Magellan poll earlier this year on tax increase possibilities gives some insight into this issue. By 50%-43%, voters said they would support raising taxes for education. But when asked about raising income taxes specifically support plummeted to 35% and opposition rose to 55%.
Voters don’t like income tax increases, but they are open to the idea of raising some form of taxes to support education.
On the ballot this year, voters have the chance to tax weed, but not their income, and still support schools. And that’s a major problem for supporters of Amendment 66.