DENVER – A Democratic state legislator and chief backer of a plan to raise income taxes by $1 billion claims that the across-the-board tax hike enjoys the support of a majority of Coloradans – and says he has private polling data to prove it. But Compass Colorado suggested Tuesday that the lawmaker is bluffing, and is challenging him to make that private data public.
The lawmaker, state Sen. Michael Johnston (D-Denver), reportedly told a group of advisers to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper that the pro-income tax hike campaign planned to raise as much as $10 million to pitch the proposal, adding that internal polling showed “52 to 54 percent” of Coloradans in support of the idea.
Senator Johnston’s claim was reported on August 1 by EdNews Colorado.
In the days since those statements, however, Johnston has not publicly disclosed the details of the poll – prompting accusations that the Initiative 22 campaign is bluffing.
“Despite massive special interest funding, the billion dollar tax hike campaign clearly does not enjoy the support of Colorado’s voters when it comes to raising taxes on Colorado’s hard-working families,” said Compass Colorado Executive Director Kelly Maher. “We challenge Senator Johnston to release this mystery poll that contradicts both public polling and the last 20 years of elections in Colorado.”
The challenge may may have something to do with the fact that Compass Colorado released their own polling memo earlier this month.
That memo detailed the results of a survey conducted by Colorado-based Magellan Strategies, which revealed strong public opposition to an income tax hike.
The Magellan poll, conducted in April, showed that fewer than one in four respondents, 24.4 percent, supported the idea of “a billion dollar tax increase in Colorado to fund education.” And just 35.1 percent said they backed a two-tiered income tax system like the one envisioned by the proposed tax hike plan.
Initiative 22 would raise income taxes by 8 percent on income under $75,000, and by 27 percent on income over $75,000.
Johnston did not respond to a request for comment.