The Denver Post
October 2, 2013
A lawsuit challenging the petition-gathering process that got a $950 million school-tax proposal on the November ballot was filed late Wednesday, according to a group opposing the measure.
The group, Coloradans for Real Education Reform, said Bob Hagedorn, a former Democratic state senator from Aurora, and Norma Anderson, a former Republican lawmaker from Lakewood, filed the suit in Denver District Court claiming that 39,555 of the signatures gathered for the ballot measure are invalid.
The number makes up nearly 45 percent of the 89,820 signatures validated in September by Secretary of State Scott Gessler. If the lawsuit succeeds, supporters of the tax measure will not have the 86,105 required signatures. It would be too late to remove the language from the ballot, but one possible outcome would be that the votes would not be counted.
"We will be reviewing the lawsuit," said Andrew Cole, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office. Gessler is one of the named defendants in the lawsuit, the group said.
The lawsuit was not available Wednesday night, but Coloradans for Real Education Reform cited portions that claim that the signatures are invalid because some of the people hired to circulate petitions did not follow state procedures.
A news release issued by Coloradans for Real Education Reform said the lawsuit lists three reasons signatures are not valid: the affidavits were not notarized, the circulators did not include their permanent address on the affidavits, and the circulators did not present the required identification.
"A lot of the petition gatherers did not properly file papers, and it wasn't caught by the secretary of state," Anderson said.
If approved, Amendment 66 would establish a two-tiered state income tax system that would raise money to fund programs such as expanded full-day kindergarten and half-day preschool, as well as provide more resources for at-risk students and English-language learners.
Colorado's current income tax, a flat 4.63 percent, would move to a system in which the first $75,000 of income would be taxed at 5 percent, and any income over that amount would be taxed at 5.9 percent.
Representatives for Colorado Commits to Kids, the group spearheading the campaign for the tax measure, said it could not comment until it saw a copy of the lawsuit.
"Without seeing the filing, we have no comment other than to say we are fully confident Colorado voters this fall will retain the right to vote on Amendment 66 and investing more in our schools," said Andrew Freedman, campaign director for Colorado Commits to Kids.