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Prop. 103 fundraising inches up

Groups supporting Proposition 103 continue to outpace opponents in fundraising, according to the latest contribution and spending reports.

Proposition 103, the only measure on the statewide ballot this year, would raise the state income tax rate to 5 percent and the state sales tax to 3 percent for five years, raising an estimated $3 billion for the legislature to use for education funding.

Support Schools for a Bright Colorado, the main group supporting the measure, reported total fundraising of $419,560, including $35,013 in the Sept. 29-Oct. 12 period covered by the latest report. The group has spent $238,844.

The money raised is well below the nearly $2 million raised in 2008 in support of Amendment 59, the unsuccessful proposed constitutional amendment that would have increased school funding.

Support Schools began running television ads Monday urging a yes vote on Proposition 103, the first broadcast and cable ads in the campaign.

Major recent contributions to Support Schools include $10,000 from The Community Foundation of Boulder and $12,500 from the Colorado Municipal Bond Dealers Association.

Two other groups supporting Proposition 103, Great Education Colorado Action and the Policy Action Fund, also reported very modest increased fundraising. The first committee, which is affiliated with the advocacy group Great Education Colorado, has raised $5,000. It also reported $2,327 in non-monetary contributions.

The fund, which is affiliated with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy think tank, has raised $4,700. It also reported $14,005 in non-monetary spending, primarily staff time to campaign.

Opposition war chests modest

One opposition group, Save Colorado Jobs, reported total fundraising of $10,170, only $120 of that in the latest reporting period. The other opposition group, Too Taxing for Colorado, reported total fundraising of $12,092, including $8,710 in the latest period. Major recent contributions included $5,000 from the Colorado Union of Taxpayers and $2,000 from Colorado At Its Best, a committee associated with anti-tax activist Dennis Polhill. Too Taxing reported spending $1,000 on radio ads.

There is some unreported spending in the campaign by at least one outside group.

A new committee named Compass Colorado is planning automated telephone calls opposing the proposition. General political committees that make independent expenditures for or against individual ballot measures aren’t required to file reports. (See news release about the group’s plans.)

Support Schools has done its own robocalls in support of the proposition, using 4Degre.es, a Denver consulting and advertising firm that specializes on online communications. The campaign has spent $24,250 with the firm, which also has done work for Denver school board at-large candidate Happy Haynes, unsuccessful Denver mayoral candidate Chris Romer and Senate Majority Leader John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.

The Support Schools TV campaign is being run during newscasts on Denver network stations and on some cable channels.

Campaign manager Adam Dunstone said it hasn’t been decided how long the campaign will run, and he said he didn’t recall how much the TV ads are costing. He said that will be reported in the next filing, due Oct. 31, just before the election on Nov. 1.

Dunstone said the ads were done by Putnam Partners, an Arlington, Va., firm that did ads for Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, as well as candidates in other states and work for President Obama. Putnam did the TV ads showing Hickelooper in a shower, trying to wash off the dirt of negative campaign. (View the Proposition 103 ad here, and you can see some of the firm’s ads here.)

The Proposition 103 ad shows several shots of students and a school bus, with a voiceover script emphasizing the argument that Colorado students need increased education funding now.

Stories on previous financial reports:



  • State income tax rate would rise to 5 percent from 4.63 percent
  • State sales tax rate would go to 3 percent from 2.9 percent
  • New rates are same as those in effect in 1999
  • Higher rates would end in 2017

Revenue use

  • Proposition would raise an estimated $3 billion over five years
  • Additional revenue could be spent only on preschool programs, K-12 schools and state colleges and universities
  • Legislature would decide how to split revenues
  • Spending would have to be in addition to levels of 2011-12