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Teachers Union Bankrolls “Colorado Commits to Kids” Statewide Tax Campaign

As Ed News Colorado reports today, the campaign for a statewide income tax increase is being bankrolled by the Colorado Education Association (CEA), the state’s largest teachers union. On its first campaign disclosure, Colorado Commits to Kids reported $342,300 in total contributions. CEA pitched in $250,000, or nearly three of every four dollars.

The first round of campaign finance reporting makes the decision to name the opponents’ issue committee look prophetic. Coloradans Against Unions Using Kids as Pawns chair Kristina Cook responded to the news:

Colorado’s most powerful teachers’ union contributing a quarter of a million dollars to pass the billion-dollar-a-year tax increase highlights the fact that Initiative 22 is more about getting money into retirement accounts for adults than getting money into classrooms for our students.


Cook’s committee has raised a mere $5,000 by comparison. But as Colorado Peak Politics points out, history is not on the side of proponents:

Colorado voters have never passed a general tax-rate increase since TABOR passed over 20 years ago.


Supporters of the Initiative 22 education tax increase have a lot of work cut out for them to best a 2011 statewide campaign that only garnered 36 percent of the vote. They have picked up some momentum with $250,000 infused by the teachers union, but it will remain difficult to kick into gear with a politically vulnerable Gov. John Hickenlooper wavering on the issue.

A tax initiative campaign that so readily defines itself in line with the other side’s messaging still has a long ways to go to persuade skeptical voters across the political spectrum. Opponents would be happy to keep union officials — generously spending members’ refundable dollars — as the face of Initiative 22.

Ben DeGrow

Ben DeGrow is co-editor of Watchdog Wire - Colorado. Contact him at Colorado@WatchdogWire.com to learn how to get involved with citizen journalism in the Boulder State. Follow him on Twitter: @bendegrow

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