Proposed Colorado Tax-and-Debt Measures Lose Badly

Colorado voters on Tuesday soundly rejected three restrictive tax-and-debt ballot measures that analysts warned would spell economic gloom in the state for decades.

Voters also defeated a proposal that opponents claimed would ban abortion.

The tax-and-debt measures drew the most attention this year. Fearing anti-government sentiment would generate support among voters, business and political leaders from across the state raised $6.8 million to defeat the measures -- a fundraising amount exceeded only by Colorado's gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns.

Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 would have cut school district property taxes, banned state borrowing and reduced the state income tax, respectively.

Their passage, legislative analysts said, 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 the case that the measures would help the economy -- and government revenues -- by enabling taxpayers to spend more.

A proposal to ban abortion, Amendment 62, also failed, as did a similar "personhood" measure in 2008. 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. It would bar Colorado from forcing residents to buy health insurance. Missouri overwhelmingly approved a similar measure in August, though the amendment was considered largely symbolic because federal law generally trumps state law.

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. 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.