Election 2012: Colorado in a Yes Mood

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The scene at the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office on Nov. 6, 2012. (credit: Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

The scene at the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office on Nov. 6, 2012. (credit: Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

With all of the attention on the Presidential race throughout the year, it was easy to lose track of the many smaller local measures that were on ballots throughout Colorado. Many mill levies were sought by school districts and various cities asked voters to approve “de-Brucing” measures, allowing city budgets to keep more taxpayer money.

Earlier this year, many pundits and many elected officials, including Governor John Hickenlooper, thought that asking voters for anything money related this year was a fool’s errand. Hickenlooper famously said that he felt taxpayers this year did not have “an appetite for any tax increases”.

While Hickenlooper has a flawless record with tax increases, on estimating appetites, it seems he was off, way off.

Voters from Castle Pines to Weld County overwhelmingly approved various funding measures on Tuesday night.

Seeing the returns come in on Tuesday night, showing major victories of mill levies in many different counties, it occurred to me that even though the major issue of the election was the economy, citizens must not be that worried about their pocket book this year.

It should be interesting to see how this attitude is interpreted by the State Legislature in 2013.

With Democrats holding the majority in both the House and the Senate, the only barrier to potential funding measures getting to the 2013 ballot will be Governor John Hickenlooper. While he is no stranger to tax increases, he doesn’t like to lose. He will gauge the chances of something passing very carefully before he fully endorses it.

On one hand, we are likely to still be in the throes of a recession throughout next year. But on the other hand, striking while the iron is hot is also important because you don’t know how things will be looking in a mid-term election, so waiting to 2014 may not be a wise decision either.

The ramifications of the “yes” mood that Colorado voters were in on Tuesday may expand past how the legislature looks at any potential tax increases. It may also pique the interest of folks who would like to go to back to those same voters on other issues.

Frankly, it may turn back a trend that has worried me as of late, for strictly selfish reasons.

As a debate producer, I have seen a recent drought of ballot issues in a state that historically provides nearly a dozen of statewide measures each cycle. Both CBS 4 and CPT 12 like to offer debates on as many ballot issues as possible. When Colorado had 12-14 measures to consider, as a debate producer, I had an embarrassment of riches to select from.

However, this year, statewide ballot measures shrunk to a total of 3, with really only one being a major issue worthy of a debate. Many pundits felt that because statewide ballot initiative campaigns cost so much money and since voters have recently been in a “no” mood, it was best to defer in 2012.

Perhaps the recent outcomes will bring back some of the ballot measures that we all know and love. Admittedly, some of us love them more than others, and for different reasons. But you know what I mean.

So while many will still focus on the Presidential race when the results of the 2012 election are discussed, don’t forget the affect of the other decisions Colorado voters made this year.

The “yes” votes placed this year may, in the end, have a greater affect on the future of Colorado than any other votes placed on Tuesday.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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