The New York Times
November 5, 2013
DENVER — Colorado voters on Tuesday rejected one of the most sweeping school-financing measures in the nation this year, according to The Associated Press, deciding that the promise of smaller class sizes, full-day kindergarten and smarter education spending was not worth the price of a tax increase.
The vote was a major defeat for teachers’ unions and the state’s governor, John W. Hickenlooper, a Democrat who campaigned heavily in support of the measure to provide $1 billion mostly for educational improvements. It was also a blow to charter-school advocates and a group of deep-pocketed philanthropists who had supported the effort as a rare opportunity to infuse new money into poor and struggling schools. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York contributed $1 million, as did Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation is a major contributor to education projects.
Opponents of the education measure were vastly outspent, but they offered a simple argument to voters leery of higher taxes, saying that the increase would hurt job creation, cost small businesses money and bruise the state’s economic recovery, with no guarantees that the changes would actually work.
The vote came one year after Californians approved a $6 billion tax increase to shore up the state’s finances and schools. But, unlike in California, voters in Colorado sent a message that they were unwilling to shoulder higher taxes, even in the name of a popular issue like education.
“Just taking money and throwing it at a broken system is not what’s going to make the education system better,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado, which opposed the ballot measure.
Speaking to disappointed supporters, Mr. Hickenlooper said: “Every great social victory in the history of this country is based on a number of failures, whether you’re talking about civil rights or women’s suffrage — go down the list. We’ll keep working at this.”
The tax increase was subject to approval by voters because of the strict limits on new taxes and spending that Colorado voters enacted 20 years ago. The proposal touched off a fevered public campaign and stirred sharp divides between Democrats and Republicans, even as many voters puzzled over how it would affect their schools and their children.
While Colorado’s voters and government have recently moved in a Democratic direction, twice supporting President Obama and embracing legalized marijuana and same-sex civil unions, analysts had said it was uncertain whether that trend would extend to pocketbook issues like income taxes.
Colorado was one of many states this year where Election Day battles focused on ballot measures or local issues rather than governor’s races. Taxes, schools, marijuana, oil drilling, casino gambling, genetically modified foods and secession were all put to votes.
A less polarizing issue in Colorado was a proposal, approved on Tuesday, to set a 25 percent tax on recreational marijuana, which state voters made legal last November.
With the state preparing to allow licensed retailers to sell marijuana to recreational adult users, lawmakers and many marijuana-related businesses said the tax was needed to fund a new system of regulations and enforcement.
In Massachusetts, voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal that sought to bring a gleaming $1 billion resort casino to the fading Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston, according to The A.P. After a heated campaign that pitted the promise of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in new investments against worries about crime and gambling addiction, voters in East Boston and the adjacent town of Revere voted against a dramatic new addition to their neighborhoods.
The vote was a victory for the opposition group No Eastie Casino, which ran a shoestring campaign and was vastly outspent by proponents. Many small-business owners in East Boston believed the casino would siphon off whatever discretionary money people had, and No Eastie Casino asserted that gambling would snarl traffic and increase drug use and crime.
Supporters of the casino, including Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, who sent his troops into the area on Election Day to pull out “yes” votes, said that it would bring the communities 4,000 jobs and an infusion of money for things like new roads.
Even before Tuesday, the fate of the Massachusetts measure had been thrown into doubt when the state gambling commission raised questions last month about the suitability of Suffolk Downs’s partner at the time, Caesars Entertainment, to operate the casino. Suffolk asked Caesars to withdraw from the bid, which it did.
Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, told reporters that he was not certain how the track would proceed, but the apparently lopsided vote against the casino could well have doomed the effort.