Colorado Sales Tax for Developmentally Disabled, Initiative 51 (2008)
The Colorado State Sales Tax Increase for Services for People with Developmental Disabilities Initiative, also known as Initiative 51, was on the November 2008 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have increased the state sales tax by $185.1 million annually to provide funding for long-term services for persons with developmental disabilities.
|Colorado Initiative 51 (2008)|
Election results via: The Colorado Secretary of State
The language appeared on the ballot as:
|“||SHALL STATE TAXES BE INCREASED $186.1 MILLION ANNUALLY AFTER FULL IMPLEMENTATION BY AN AMENDMENT TO THE COLORADO REVISED STATUTES CONCERNING AN INCREASE IN THE STATE SALES AND USE TAX TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR LONG-TERM SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, AND, IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, INCREASING THE RATE OF THE STATE SALES AND USE TAX BEGINNING ON JULY 1, 2009, BY ONE-TENTH OF ONE PERCENT IN EACH OF THE NEXT TWO FISCAL YEARS; PERMITTING THE STATE TO RETAIN AND SPEND ALL REVENUES FROM THE NEW TAX, NOTWITHSTANDING THE STATE SPENDING LIMIT; REQUIRING AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE NET REVENUE FROM THE NEW TAX TO BE DEPOSITED IN THE NEWLY CREATED DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES LONG-TERM SERVICES CASH FUND; REQUIRING THE MONEY IN THE FUND TO BE USED TO PROVIDE LONG-TERM SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES; AND PROHIBITING REDUCTIONS IN THE LEVEL OF STATE APPROPRIATIONS IN THE ANNUAL GENERAL APPROPRIATION BILL EXISTING ON THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS MEASURE FOR LONG-TERM SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES?||”|
Details of the measure
The measure would have included the following provisions:
- A two-cent state sales tax on every $10 would be added.
- The tax would be phased in, raising the current state sales tax of 2.9% to 3% the first year and then to 3.1% in the second year.
- Gasoline, groceries, prescription drugs, medical services, and utilities would remain exempt from the state sales tax.
- The new tax money would be used to provide services that help the developmentally-disabled with daily living tasks such as food preparation, job training, nursing, and medical needs.
Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin came out against the measure.
Supporters included the following organizations that signed on to support Amendment 51 Initiative to End The Wait List for Persons with Developmental Disabilities:
- Ability Specialists
- ACL in Boulder
- Adams Camp
- Adaptive AutoMobility
- Advanced Systems Plus
End Colorado's Developmental Disability Wait List raised $107,532 in August 2008. Almost half, $51,000, came from The ARC in Jefferson County.
The group raised an additional $64,000 in the first two weeks of September. The largest donors were the Developmental Disabilities Response Center in Lakewood ($25,000) and Imagine in Lafayette ($15,000).
Taxpayers who believed that the State Legislature should establish spending priorities before increasing the tax burden on residents were opposed to Amendment 51.
Critics of the proposal said residents can not afford a tax hike, and that the higher tax rate would hurt the state's economy. Opponents also said funding levels for such services should be determined as part of the regular budget process of the state Legislature. "Reducing the waiting lists could be accomplished without raising taxes by re-prioritizing how the state spends its money," opponents wrote in the state Blue Book voter guide.
Path to the ballot
Supporters submitted more than 131,000 signatures for the measure, well over the 76,047 valid signatures required, on July 28, 2008. The signatures were certified by the Secretary of State's office on Aug. 11, 2008.
- Colorado 2008 ballot measures
- 2008 ballot measures
- List of Colorado ballot measures
- History of Initiative & Referendum in Colorado
- Colorado State Legislative Council, "Ballot History," accessed February 26, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Rocky Mountain News: "Voters to settle aid for disabled," July 29, 2008
- KUSA-TV News, "Palin opposes tax to help developmentally disabled," Oct. 21, 2008
- Rocky Mountain News, "Union's Aug. ballot fight fund: $160,000," Sept. 3, 2008
- Rocky Mountain News, "Local union gives $3 million to fight right-to-work measure," Sept. 15, 2008
- Denver Post: "Sales-tax increase makes ballot," Aug. 12, 2008
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