Opponents of a trio of tax-and-debt ballot proposals they said would handcuff Colorado's economy breezed to victory Tuesday after spending nearly $6.8 million in a blitzkrieg to overwhelm a small group of anti-tax advocates.
Democrats and Republicans joined forces with business leaders across the state in voicing their opposition against the measures, which they considered a powerful threat during a year of voter anger over government spending.
"It took a lot of hard work. Six months ago it appeared that these were very viable and it took a lot of effort to defeat these," said Dan Hopkins, spokesman for the group opposing the measures, Coloradans for Responsible Reform.
Amendments 60, 61, and Proposition 101 were each losing by a margin of more than 2-1 late Tuesday with more than 65 percent of the projected vote counted. They would have cut school district property taxes, banned state borrowing and reduced the state income tax, respectively.
Legislative analysts had warned the measures ultimately would have cost the state $2.1 billion in annual revenue. Analysts warned the state would eventually be forced to devote 92 percent of its budget to constitutionally required K-12 education funding, leaving little for higher education, human services, prisons and anything else.
Supporters raised only $17,400, hampering their efforts to make their case for their proposals.
"We tried to bring moderate tax relief to citizens and protect our children from excessive government debt," Natalie Menten, the campaign coordinator for the proposals, said in a written statement. "But when facing over $7 million from special interest opposition groups using scare tactics compared to our low-budget campaign, which spread the truth but didn't have funds for commercials ... we did the best we could."
Paul Teske, dean at the school for public affairs at the University of Colorado at Denver, said supporters of the measures were left with almost no state leaders endorsing their cause.
"So there was really nobody out there championing these amendments," he said.
A proposal to ban abortion, Amendment 62, also failed. With 69 percent of the projected vote counted late Tuesday, 70 percent of voters rejected it. The amendment would have granted constitutional rights at the moment of conception by defining a person "from the beginning of biological development."
Amendment 63, a response to the federal health care overhaul, was also losing at the polls. About 53 percent of voters were saying "no" to the amendment with 69 percent of the projected vote counted.
Another measure that was losing, Proposition 102, would make it so that only nonviolent first-time offenders could be released under supervision without having to post bail. With 61 of the projected vote in, about 62 percent of voters opposed it.
Supporters argued supervision programs put dangerous criminals on the streets. Many law enforcement officials opposed the proposal and said no-bail supervision programs are an effective way to manage nonviolent offenders and prevent jail overcrowding.