FILE - Colorado State Capitol

The Colorado State Capitol in Denver, Colorado.  

A recent poll says a majority of Coloradans support higher taxes on the rich and corporations to pay for education despite voters rejecting ballot proposals last year that would have raised taxes.

Supports of the state's Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) also cast doubt on the poll's results.

The poll, conducted by Keating Research for the Bell Policy Center, found that 60 percent of voters in the state would support a plan to increase taxes on the wealthy and use the revenues “to help families pay for the cost of early childhood education.”

Forty four percent of respondents were in strong support, while 37 percent overall opposed such a plan. It also found 67 percent said they pay the right amount or don’t pay enough in taxes.

TABOR bars legislators from raising taxes, instead requiring voter approval for any proposed tax hikes. Some lawmakers have found ways around TABOR by using “fees” to raise revenue.

The poll results were posted on the blog of “Stop Digging,” which is a project of the Bell Policy Center and the Colorado Fiscal Institute. The website says its aim is to “highlight deeply flawed tax policies that would put our state deeper into a hole for the kinds of public investments we need to protect the Colorado way of life and help communities and families thrive.”

The blog post said the poll was evidence of “growing support from Coloradans to implement a progressive tax system.”

The blog post cited another Keating Research survey done leading up to the November election, which found 57 percent of voters agreed with a plan to support “raising taxes on the wealthy to provide more education, health care, and child care funding.”

“This sentiment was echoed by Amendment 73’s results, which saw 46 percent of Coloradans in support of the wealthy paying their fair share in taxes to support K-12 education,” the blog post continued.

But Amendment 73, the Establish Income Tax Brackets and Raise Taxes for Education Initiative, was one ballot measure that Colorado voters rejected in November. The amendment would have created a progressive income tax and exempt education spending from TABOR. Colorado is one of 10 states that have a flat income tax, meaning all income levels are taxed at the same rate.

A proposed increase to the state sales tax to fund transportation was also rejected by voters.

The blog post additionally cited research by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which “states that increased taxes on the wealthy generated substantial revenue for public investments benefiting the state as a whole, while meeting or exceeding economic growth compared to neighboring states with no such taxes in place.”

“Armed with new polling and research – not to mention a sizable bloc of voters who want to see the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share to support better opportunities for Colorado families – it’s possible we will soon join the majority of other states and the federal government in taxing income progressively,” the post said.

During his state of the state address last month, Gov. Jared Polis prioritized funding full-day public school kindergarten that would be paid for by taxpayers.

Keating Research conducted the poll from January 8-13, which has a confidence level of 95 percent and +/- 4 percent.

Groups critical of attempts to tamper with TABOR cast doubt on the poll.

Marty Neilson of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers called the poll “wishful thinking” in an email to Colorado Watchdog.

“As happened in the 2018 election, Colorado voters rejected fiscally irresponsible issues on the ballot,” she said.

Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, said in an email, “the poll that counted was Amendment 73.”

“It seems that overwhelmingly Coloradans know that a flat income tax attracts productive people into this state to unleash their talents,” he said. “The stampede of productive income earners rushing to states like Texas and Florida and out of progressive income tax states like California says it all.”


Regional Editor

Derek Draplin is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as an opinion producer at Forbes, as an editor at The Daily Caller, and as a reporter at Michigan Capitol Confidential and The Detroit News.