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Voters pass pot measure, reject school tax hike

8:06 AM, Nov 6, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - Colorado voters rejected a $1 billion tax hike for schools and approved a measure to tax recreational marijuana.

Preliminary numbers suggest Amendment 66 failing by at least 66 percent of the vote and proposition AA passing by 54 percent of the vote.

Check on state and county results

Amendment 66 would have created wholesale changes for how Colorado funds public education - from expanded preschool to more money for K-12 schools with high numbers of at-risk students.

The measure would have raised income taxes from 4.63 percent to 5 percent for taxable income up to $75,000 a year. Income above $75,000 would have been taxed at 5.9 percent.

Opponents of the measure celebrated Tuesday's results.

"It's certainly not my victory. It's Colorado's victory," Jon Caldara with the Independence Instittute said. "It's a victory for Colorado families. That they were able to avoid a 27 percent income tax increase."

The school funding overhaul was approved by lawmakers earlier this year but required voter approval to take effect.

Amendment 66's loss means that Colorado will retain a flat income tax structure in place since the 1980s.

State Senator Mike Johnston (D-Denver), the sponsor of the bill that originated the amendment, was surprised at the margin of the vote.

"What we saw in a lot of counties in the last 7 or 8 days was we really saw our support flip as we heard more and more national media about the government shutdown, about Obamacare's failings,"

Hickenlooper statement on Amendment 66:

"As Coloradans, we have a history of going after what we believe is the best, right thing, based upon facts, and we go after that goal with hard work and heart. That's the Western spirit alive in each of us.

"For some people Amendment 66 was only about taxes. For others it was about investing in and sacrificing for our most valuable resource: our children. We are committed to common sense solutions and remain committed to collaborating with everyone to make Colorado's education system the best it can be."

PROPOSITION AA

Proposition AA, approved Tuesday, implements a 15 percent pot excise tax plus a 10 percent sales tax. The taxes are estimated to bring in $70 million a year.

The taxes are in addition to a 2.9 percent sales tax that pot stores will be subjected to for marijuana regulation. Sales of recreational marijuana become legal in Colorado on Jan. 1.

Opponents of the taxes argued that marijuana should be taxed like beer, which has a lower tax rate. Supporters, including pot legalization advocates, called the measure an opportunity to show the marijuana industry can be beneficial.

Hickenlooper statement on proposition AA

"We are grateful voters approved funding that will allow for a strong regulatory environment, just like liquor is regulated. We will do everything in our power to make sure kids don't smoke pot and that we don't have people driving who are high. This ballot measure gives Colorado the ability to regulate marijuana properly."

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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