Colorado voters reject marijuana tax hike, 2 other statewide ballot measures |

Colorado voters reject marijuana tax hike, 2 other statewide ballot measures

Other measures would reduce property tax assessment rates, require all state spending to go through legislature

Daniel Ducassi, Jesse Paul and Thy Vo
The Colorado Sun

Statewide, Colorado voters turned down three ballot questions related to a marijuana tax increase, a reduction in property tax assessment rates and a requirement for all state spending to go through the Colorado Legislature. The three measures also failed locally in Summit County.

Proposition 119

Colorado voters rejected a proposal to increase taxes on recreational marijuana to pay for out-of-school support services for students like tutoring and therapy.

Supporters of Proposition 119 admitted defeat at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. As of 9 p.m., the measure was failing with 56% rejecting the initiative and 44% in support.

The mood at the Maven Hotel in downtown Denver, where about 50 supporters for Proposition 119 held the official Yes on 119 watch party, was hopeful at around 7 p.m. as attendees sipped drinks and nibbled on hors d’oeuvres while watching early results trickle in. But the mood began to fade after 8 p.m. as the measure looked increasingly unlikely to succeed. Few supporters remained by 8:30 p.m.

Judy Solano, a Democratic former state representative and retired school teacher who helped lead the opposition, said she was “thrilled that the voters were smart enough to realize that creating a huge new bureaucracy to take care of one issue in education … would have been a very expensive and unnecessary thing to do.”

She thinks voters “saw through” supporters’ arguments and decided “we have to properly fund our schools before we do anything else.”

In Summit County, the measure failed with 53% voting against it.

Proposition 120

An effort to reduce some property taxes in Colorado was failing by a wide margin Tuesday night in what would ultimately be a stinging defeat for conservatives who have increasingly turned to ballot measures to advance their policies as their candidates keep losing.

The vote for Proposition 120 as of 9 p.m. Tuesday was 54% in opposition to the ballot measure and 46% in favor.

Proposition 120 would reduce the property tax assessment rates for multifamily residential properties to 6.5% from 7.15% starting in 2022. It also would drop the rate for lodging properties to 26.4% from 29%.

Proponents of the measure said a property tax reduction for multifamily housing could reduce rents and encourage investment to ease the state’s housing shortage. Lower property taxes for lodging properties may allow businesses to expand and hire more employees.

Opponents argued that slashing property taxes might result in cuts to government services, including for schools and fire departments that rely on property tax revenue to operate.

In Summit County, the measure failed with 63% voting against it.

Amendment 78

A conservative-backed Colorado ballot measure seeking to give state lawmakers more oversight over how certain non-state funding sources are spent appeared headed for defeat Tuesday.

The vote for Amendment 78 as of 9 p.m. was 43% in favor and 57% against, according to 1 million ballots counted so far. The early results are incomplete, but the constitutional amendment would need approval from 55% of voters to pass.

The Colorado General Assembly has an appropriation process to decide how state tax revenue is spent each year, but certain non-state sources like federal grant money, private donations and other “custodial funds” from outside the state government aren’t subject to that process.

For example, the $1.7 billion in federal relief dollars that Colorado received last year from the CARES Act wasn’t subject to the legislative appropriation process. It was spent by Gov. Jared Polis’ office through an executive order, angering Republicans who complained they were left out of the decision-making.

Proponents of the ballot measure say it would provide greater transparency and accountability to state spending by requiring lawmakers to determine how the state spends custodial money, which could affect federal emergency relief and grant dollars, money from legal settlements, funding for transportation projects that are currently allocated by an independent commission and private gifts and donations, like those collected by public colleges and universities.

In Summit County, the measure failed with 63% voting against it.

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