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Much spent for little result

More than $900,000 was raised in mostly losing efforts to pass statewide and local education tax increases in the Nov. 1 election, according to final campaign spending and contribution reports filed with the Department of State Thursday.

The bulk of the money, nearly $620,000, was raised in support of Proposition 103, the proposed increase in state income and sales taxes to fund schools and colleges. The measure was defeated by a 64 percent no vote.

On the local level, 36 districts proposed a total of 43 bond issues and mill levy overrides. Only a dozen passed – seven bond issues and five overrides, a rejection rate not seen in Colorado since the late 1980s.

Support Schools for a Bright Colorado, the main group supporting Prop. 103, raised a total of $608,374 and spent $603,273. There were two other support groups. Great Education Colorado Action raised $4,967, spent $2,202.18 and provided $15,560 in non- monetary support, mostly in staff costs for campaigning. The Policy Action Fund raised $4,700, spent $4,700 and provided $40,019.24 in non-monetary support.

The opposition group Save Colorado Jobs raised $10,250 and spent the same amount. Too Taxing for Colorado spent $14,933 and reported spending it all. A third opposition group, Compass Colorado, wasn’t required to file reports.

At the district level significant fundraising by support groups also didn’t persuade voters to support tax increases. About $325,000 was raised statewide, about a third of it in the failed Douglas County campaign.

Here’s a sampling of fundraising in larger districts that failed to pass bond or override proposals:

  • Brighton override – Parents for 27K Schools raised $22,257 and spent $15,867.
  • Douglas bond and override – Douglas County Citizens for Education Reform started with a $20,921 war chest, raised another $84,144 and spent $103.907
  • Eagle Count override – Citizens for Eagle County Schools raised $25,805 and spent the same amount.
  • Mesa 51 override – Friends of School District 51 raised $50,548 and spent $47,479.
  • Pueblo County bond – Building D70 Communities raised $7,900 and spent $7,715.
  • Thompson override – The Community Coalition for Local Schools raised $11,207 and spent the same.

Here’s the list of the districts where voters approved tax increases and the amounts raised and spent by support groups:

  • Big Sandy/Simla – $2.9 million bond for BEST match. Yes for Big Sandy Schools raised $1,279 and spent $1,126.
  • Byers – $330,000 override. No committee registered.
  • Cheyenne Mountain – $1.7 million override. Friends of Cheyenne Mountain Schools raised $29,220 and spent $25,027.
  • Ellicott – $2.4 million BEST match. Ellicott Kids First spent $1,757 and spent the same.
  • Englewood – $50 million bond ($43 million for construction and $8 million for a BEST match), $1.5 million override. Citizens for Englewood Schools raised $21,697 and spent $21,178.
  • Idalia – $3.9 million BEST match. Citizens for Idalia School raised $5,300 and spent $3,700.
  • Ignacio – $4.7 million BEST match. Citizens for Safe and Secure Ignacio Schools raised $602 and reported no spending. The measure passed by one vote after a recount.
  • Prairie/New Raymer – $3.4 million BEST match. No committee registered.
  • Roaring Fork – $4.2 million override. Children First raised $30,282 and spent $27,879.
  • Sanford – $2.1 million BEST match. Best School for a Healthy Community raised $691 and spent $635.
  • Sierra Grande (Costilla County) – $335,000 override. No committee registered.

In most cases, committees raised little additional money in the Oct. 27-Nov. 30 reporting period. The final pre-election report, filed Oct. 31, covered activity Oct. 13-26. (See previous stories about campaign finance in the Education News Colorado archive of stories on Prop. 103.)

Most committees in larger districts showed a common pattern of contributions from individual citizens, local businesses, banks, constructional and architectural firms and other companies with an interest in school construction. The Colorado Education Association and local affiliates also contributed to several campaigns, and the CEA supported the pro-103 effort.

Related: District tax votes mark historic low

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