Expectations high for pot tax
Proposition AA, while short on funds, may be victorious
DENVER - With less than a week to Election Day, the campaign to tax marijuana has raised just $65,000, a tiny sum for a statewide ballot campaign.
But it might not matter.
Internal polls by the tax proponents show Proposition AA is on track for an easy victory.
"It's hovering around 60 to 65 percent," said Joe Megyesy, spokesman for the Committee for Responsible Regulation.
The campaign took polls in August and September, using Keating Research, a Colorado pollster that had the most accurate poll of the state in the 2012 presidential election.
The latest tracking poll, from Oct. 8 and 9, surveyed 600 likely voters statewide. It found 60 percent of respondents would definitely or probably vote "yes," compared with 25 percent who definitely or probably would vote "no." The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent.
Prop AA is more popular with Democrats, whose 65 percent support is 12 points higher than the measure's support among Republicans. Across both parties, the measure has higher support from voters ages 18 to 49 than from voters 50 and older, the poll found.
Prop AA asks voters to approve two taxes on recreational marijuana - a 15 percent wholesale excise tax and a 10 percent retail sales tax, which the Legislature could raise as high as 15 percent.
The pro-Prop AA group got off to a late start in fundraising, with only one donation until an Oct. 2 fundraiser with Gov. John Hickenlooper. The campaign brought in nearly $36,000 that day, by far its biggest haul.
Hickenlooper said proponents would need to raise more money, and he thanked the medical marijuana businesspeople and their lobbyists for contributing.
"It builds a relationship between this new industry and the community," Hickenlooper said at the fundraiser.
But fundraising has slowed to a trickle since early October.
In contrast to the campaign for an income-tax hike for schools, which has spent $3.1 million on television ads the last two weeks, the Prop AA campaign hasn't spent a dime on advertising.
Instead, most of its spending has gone to paychecks for the few people on the campaign.
"It's a very grass-roots campaign. We've been taking our message to all corners of the state," Megyesy said.
Campaign workers are visiting Rotary and Lions clubs, county political parties and editorial boards, he said.
The campaign announced an expanded coalition of supporters Tuesday, including the Colorado Municipal League, Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, Club 20 and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Most of the monetary donations have come from existing medical marijuana businesses.
"I think it just goes to show how eager this industry is to prove its legitimacy," Megyesy said.
The anti-Prop AA campaign has collected less than $2,200 all year.