DENVER Education supporters turned in more than 142,000 petition signatures Monday to raise sales and income taxes, meaning that Colorado voters are likely to see the question on the Nov. 1 ballot.
Initiative 25s author, Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, said he and his allies have plenty of signatures to meet the legally required 86,105 even if many of their petitions are disqualified.
The campaign used paid circulators to get about two-thirds of the signatures, and about 800 volunteers got the rest. Heath collected up 1,022 signatures.
I think its indicative of how deep and wide the support for this initiative is, Heath said.
From 2012 through 2017, the initiative would raise individual and corporate income taxes to 5 percent, from the current 4.63 percent, and sales taxes to 3 percent, from the current 2.9 percent.
The Legislature cut taxes to their current rates early last decade, when the state was running budget surpluses. The last three years, legislators have cut school funding by more than $700 million.
Penn Pfiffner, chairman of Too Taxing for Colorado, a group formed to oppose the school-tax increase, said boosting taxes in the current fragile economy would be harmful.
Its more money for state government when families are having a hard time making ends meet, and the economy is just coming out of recession, he said.
Many potential allies, including unions and Gov. John Hickenlooper, have not signed on as supporters. Hickenlooper has repeatedly said Coloradans have no appetite for a tax increase.
But Heath said his petitions prove otherwise.
Many people didnt think we would be able to do this. I think the overwhelming response sends a very, very clear message that people are ready to support education and make that investment, Heath said.
His official campaign, Support Our Schools for a Bright Colorado, had raised $140,000 and spent $54,000 as of its July 1 disclosure to the secretary of state.
Its contributions include $10,000 from Heath and $100,000 from The Gary Williams Company, a Denver-based natural-gas and oil firm.
Regina Thomson, executive director Too Taxing for Colorado, says her group will launch a media campaign soon.
Well be talking to people about the hard economic facts of it, Thomson said.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Herald Staff Writer Patrick Armijo contributed to this report.