DENVER – While Colorado voters are open to the idea of additional funding for schools, getting them to sign off on the details of a proposed $1 billion, across-the-board income tax hike backed by labor unions and Governor John Hickenlooper may be a tougher sell, according to a polling memo released by the conservative advocacy group Compass Colorado.
The memo analyzed the findings of one of the only recent polls done on Coloradans’ views on raising taxes, which was conducted earlier this year by Magellan Strategies, a Louisville, Colorado based firm.
When poll respondents were asked if they would support a tax increase to fund education in Colorado, 50.3 percent of those polled said they would, compared to 42.9 percent who said they would not. But those surveyed did not support the idea of raising income taxes, and they were even less enthusiastic about the idea of a two-tiered income tax structure like the one championed by Governor Hickenlooper.
When asked if they would support “raising the state income tax from 4.63% to 5.35% to increase funding for education in Colorado,” just 35.9 percent of those polled said they would, while 54.7 percent said they would not.
When asked if they would support raising income taxes by one percent on those making less than $75,000, and by three percent on those making more than $75,000, just 35.1 percent said they would, compared to 56.3 percent who said they would not.
There was also a “sticker shock” effect on support for raising taxes when a dollar amount was attached to the idea.
When asked if they would support “a billion dollar tax increase in Colorado to fund education”, less than one in four respondents, 24.4 percent, said they would. By comparison, nearly six in ten, 58.4 percent, opposed the idea.
While the poll was conducted in late April, before the details of a proposed tax hike backed by Governor Hickenlooper and the state’s largest union were publicly known, the results are bad news for the plan’s backers. That’s because the proposed $1 billion tax hike, known as “Initiative 22”, contains many of the same components that polled poorly with survey respondents.
Initiative 22 would create a new two-tiered income tax system that would raise income taxes by 8 percent on those making less than $75,000, and by 27 percent over current levels on those with incomes over $75,000.
That point wasn’t lost on Compass Colorado, who issued a memo on Thursday highlighting the results of the survey.
“Not only do voters oppose the two-tiered tax increase system of Initiative 22, they strongly oppose the initiative across all ages and genders…[and] [l]ess than a quarter of voters are apt to support a ‘billion dollar tax increase,’” read the memo. “That is significantly less than the 37% who voted in favor of Proposition 103 in 2011, which only asked for half as much as Initiative 22 seeks.”
Proposition 103, which sought to raise income taxes, was overwhelmingly defeated by voters in 2011 by a 63 percent to 37 percent margin.
The Magellan Strategies survey of 675 adults was conducted between April 24 and 25, and has a + / – 3.77 percent margin of error.