DENVER (AP) – A ballot question seeking to raise Colorado residents’ income taxes to benefit public schools has deep-pocketed support. On Monday, the campaign in favor of the measure reported donations of $1 million or more from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates.
“We’re pleased with the support we have received both within Colorado and nationally for an education reform plan that will be a national model,” tax campaign spokesman Curtis Hubbard told The Gazette.
The campaign to back the tax hike has now raised more than $10 million, according to campaign finance reports posted Monday.
Bloomberg added $1.05 million to the effort, and the Gateses contributed $1 million. Those donations made up the majority of the $2.54 million raised by the campaign in the last two weeks.
Bloomberg’s donation was praised by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. But Republicans have complained before about Bloomberg’s campaign spending in Colorado.
During a gun-control debate earlier this year, Republicans called Bloomberg, who founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the “de facto governor of Colorado” and argued he was calling the shots in the gun debate.
Senate Republicans even displayed a New York flag in their office, complete with pictures of Bloomberg and Hickenlooper.
The school tax campaign has spent at least $4.5 million to get its message across through TV and radio ads and knocking on doors.
The effort to defeat the tax measure isn’t a traditional campaign committee, making it impossible to gauge what opponents have spent.
The proposal asks voters to hike income taxes by about $950 million a year. If passed, the additional income tax money would be spent on expanded access to free preschool and other upgrades.
To pay for the changes, Colorado’s current income tax rate of 4.63 percent would be raised to 5 percent on earnings up to $75,000 a year and 5.9 percent for earnings above that threshold.
A person with a taxable income of $45,000 would pay an additional $166.50 a year. Someone with a taxable income of $100,000 a year would pay an extra $595 annually.
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