DENVER — All three statewide initiatives on the 2021 Colorado ballot appear to be doomed as preliminary numbers show voters rejecting proposals to raise retail marijuana taxes, cut tax assessment rates and take away the power to spend certain revenue from the governor.
Propositions 119 and 120 and Amendment 78 were the only three statewide questions posed to voters during the off-year 2021 elections, and all three appear to be heading for rejection.
Backers of Proposition 119, which would have created funding for after-school programs with an increase in the recreational marijuana sales tax, already conceded just two hours after the polls closed Tuesday.
Recreational marijuana sales tax would have incrementally raised by 5% by the year 2024, and the money generated would have been allocated to students as grant funding to help pay for out-of-school learning opportunities, like tutoring, music lessons and mental health services.
Various marijuana organizations came out against the proposal saying it would disproportionately affect low-income users and drive them to the black market. Even some education groups had concerns because school districts would have no say over what programs would be funded and the money would go to private groups.
As of Wednesday evening, and with 63 of 64 counties reporting, 54.41% voted against the ballot question.
Amendment 78 asked voters whether to change the way custodial funds are spent with the proposed constitutional amendment.
It would have required legislative approval before custodial funds could be spent. Proponents came up with the ballot question after several big legal settlements and the distribution of federal CARES Act spending by Gov. Jared Polis.
Those against the ballot question said that if the power was shifted to the legislature, the allocation of federal money could be significantly delayed as lawmakers debate its allocation, potentially slowing financial aid to things like natural disasters.
The amendment was losing by a significant margin as of Wednesday evening, with 56.35% of voters casting no votes. Because it would change the state's constitution, 55% of ballots cast would need to be in favor of the amendment for it to pass.
Colorado voters also appear to be striking down Proposition 120, a complicated measure that would have cut tax assessment rates for residential and commercial properties to 6.5% and 26.4%, respectively.
Initially, it would have lowered property tax rates for all Coloradans, but after the state legislature passed Senate Bill 21-293, it meant the ballot question would only apply to lodging and multi-family homes. The question’s creators had promised to sue the state to have Prop. 120 apply as intended if it had been successful, which would have resulted in a $1 billion tax cut across the state.
It appeared to be defeated by more than 178,000 votes as of Wednesday evening, with 56.61% of the ballots being no votes.
Meanwhile, both Republicans and Democrats are claiming victory in the 2021 Colorado election. Republicans are touting success in Aurora and Douglas County, while Democrats point to the failure of the statewide ballot measures and some local contests as their accomplishments.
Election results are still coming in, and even once all of the ballots are counted the results won't be certified until Nov. 29. View the the most up-to-date results here.