Today's Denver Post calls the defeat of Amendment 66 a "drubbing." That's probably the right word.
Clarity is one benefit of losing decisively. When the margin is close, you second-guess campaign tactics and speculate about whether a different strategy would have produced a different result.
None of that here. Simply put, voters just weren't in the mood to raise taxes in the way we proposed, for the education reforms we offered.
Needless to say, we are deeply disappointed. Along with many of you and other Coloradans across the state, we believed strongly in Amendment 66 and worked hard to try to get people to vote for it.
The work for education reform is a marathon, not a sprint. So, too, with fiscal reform. The Bell has been at this for more than a decade, and we remain committed for the long haul. Here's what we know:
- To ensure economic opportunity, we must close the achievement gap in schools, increase graduation rates and make sure a high school diploma means you are ready to succeed in the workforce or in post-secondary education. And we know this work starts early – that if we don't invest in quality early childhood education, we are not likely to succeed.
- It is hard to improve schools and the prospects for Colorado's students without adequate funding. Just throwing money at a problem isn't the solution. We need thoughtful, targeted investments to get the job done. As a percentage of our economy, Colorado spends less than other states – and less than it did back when many of us were in school here. That is not a recipe for success.
- Coloradans pay some of the lowest taxes in the country, and our state constitution is loaded with amendments that drive down revenues and make it very difficult for legislators to solve problems – even when they agree on what those solutions might be.
We supported Amendment 66 because we believed it addressed some of these issues. The voters disagreed. The benefit of being a think tank, committed to the long-haul, is that we now can go back to the drawing board to develop different, more workable proposals to move Colorado forward.
It is too early to know what those might look like. But as part of that process, we want to reach out to a broad range of Coloradans.
That includes you. We have always benefited from listening to our friends and supporters, and we want to hear your ideas.
In the meantime, we greatly appreciate the hard work many of you put into trying to pass Amendment 66. We also thank the many elected officials and other leaders who stepped forward to support this effort. It was a worthy cause.
And even in disappointment, we remain immensely grateful for your support for the Bell and your faith in our work. Thank you.
The Staff of the Bell