DENVER (AP) – Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected the only statewide tax increase on ballots this November — a “no” vote on education funding that revealed the sour mood of voters in this swing state.

Proposition 103 would have raised state taxes to generate $2.9 billion for public schools and colleges over the next five years. It was losing 64 percent to 36 percent with most ballots counted.

Many local bond and mill levy questions also lost badly in towns and counties across Colorado on Tuesday. From local school efforts to a question about building a new recreation center in Denver suburb, voters largely said no.

“I understand the plight of schools and everything, but personally, I don’t want to pay more taxes right now,” said Mike Tiderman, a 44-year-old customer service worker in Denver.

Supporters had hoped that years of deep budget cuts to education would give voters an appetite for higher taxes, despite nagging unemployment in Colorado. Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers cut K-12 schools’ funding by more than $200 million, to $2.8 billion.

More From CBSDenver.com: Complete Election Results

Republicans quickly claimed victory in the tax measure’s defeat.

“We can’t help children by bankrupting their parents,” said Senate Republican Leader Bill Cadman.

“People are just not ready yet to have the conversation we need to have about how to fund government at all levels,” said the proposal’s main sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Rollie Heath.

Both parties say Colorado is a crucial bellwether state to watch next year. President Barack Obama, who has traveled to Denver twice in the last five weeks to pitch his plans to improve the economy, called Colorado “a state that represents the future” Tuesday in an interview with Denver’s KUSA-TV.

The GOP, meanwhile, has vowed to put Colorado back in its column. Colorado voted twice for former President George W. Bush.

Proposition 103 would have raised individual and corporate tax rates from 4.63 percent to 5 percent and Colorado’s sales and use tax rate from 2.9 percent to 3 percent. The rates would have been in effect from 2012 through 2016, with the $2.9 billion in new revenue during that time going to K-12 schools and public colleges.

Because Colorado’s state Constitution forbids lawmakers to raise taxes, the higher tax rates were petitioned onto ballots thanks in great part to the efforts of Heath. But other Democrats, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, declined to get behind the idea.

On Tuesday, Hickenlooper released his budget proposal for next year, calling for $89 million in cuts for public schools. Public colleges and universities would get $60 million less.

– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. Mr_CO says:

    The author is a fool. IT WASN’T A SCHOOL TAX! She likely didn’t even read the provided voters blue book. Those taxes were not dedicated to schools which was clearly spelled out. This increase was slated for the state’s general fund, which may or may not have gone to schools or golf outings. The vote would have been a different story had the increase been earmarked only for education. Do you’re homework and try to stay non-partisan with your journalism in the future. Not impressed so far.

  2. Drew says:

    I am all for funding our schools but here is the deal breaker for me:

    1. Nothing is temporary; in 5-years there will be another vote to keep it permament.
    2. Knowing how politicians work; the money raised would NOT be in addition too what was already be paid, it would have free’ed up more money for the general fund.
    3. Increase the tax because the schools are suffering yet we have our friendly neighborhood politicians pushing for in-state (subsidized) tuition for people who should not be here (illegal aliens),.
    4. Though I want our Fire and police departments to be the best, I have heard of alot of waste when it comes to buying new expensive vehicles more-less annually because if they dont they loose moeny for next year.
    5. A huge amount of money is going to subsidize illegals in the form of food stamps, medical care, and a Social Security’ish program that pays elders from other countries $$ even if they move back to their home country. I did read some of this practice stopped which is a good thing but before we start increasing taxes, lets cut the spending where it needs cutting then we’ll talk.. .

  3. jose de chihuahua says:

    me and maria here illegal. we vota for mas tax why we not win?
    teacher at jose jr escuela say it ok we vota, denver say it ok if we have electric bill.
    hick make sure illegal get sanctuary why this not win? we have to make more ancor baby to make sure we win next time. adios jose.