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Proposition II: The other state ballot measure Colorado voters must decide on this November

The state is asking voters to keep nearly $24 million in tax revenue from cigarette, tobacco and nicotine sales. The money would go to preschool programs.
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Posted at 8:50 PM, Oct 31, 2023

DENVER — By now, most Colorado voters have heard of Proposition HH, but little attention has been paid to another state ballot measure voters must decide on a week from today, Proposition II.

To understand Proposition II, you have to go back to 2020 when Colorado voters approved Proposition EE, which increased taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products, created a new tax on nicotine products, like e-cigarettes, and created a minimum price for cigarettes.

The money generated from these taxes paid for health and education programs, including universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-old kids.

Universal preschool is something Lisa Weil, the executive director of Great Education Colorado, champions.

"What voters said back in 2020 is that we want to invest in the future of our state through early childhood education, and particularly making sure that every student has access to preschool,” said Weil.

The state estimated Proposition EE would bring in $186.5 million, but the actual amount it brought in was $208 million. Add in the interest and that's nearly $24 million higher than projected.

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), which is part of Colorado’s constitution, requires revenue collected above what the state projected for that particular year to be refunded to taxpayers. In this case, the money would go back to wholesalers and distributors of tobacco and nicotine products.

Proposition II asks voters to let the state keep the money.

If voters agree, $18 million would go to preschools, and the rest, $5.6 million, would go to the state’s general fund.

"We have a long way to go in Colorado to make sure that our students have all the resources they need to succeed,” said Weil.

Weil’s organization is one of many education groups that support Proposition II.

“Proposition II is a way for us to just reconfirm our commitment to providing preschool for as many Colorado students as we can,” said Weil.

Unlike other ballot measures, there’s no organized opposition to Proposition II.

Groups who might naturally oppose it are focused instead on defeating Proposition HH, which they see as a much bigger threat.

The Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University released a ballot guide, encouraging voters to vote against Proposition II.

"We opposed Proposition EE in 2020 and would oppose any effort by the state to keep additional tax revenue,” the guide said. “Colorado has enough tax dollars."

If Proposition II passes, taxes on cigarettes, tobacco, and nicotine products will continue to increase, as voters approved in 2020.

If it fails, taxes on those products would be reduced by 11.53%, according to analysts at the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly.

For more information about Proposition II, including a detailed analysis of the costs, turn to page 19 in the Colorado blue book, which was mailed to voters.

Online copies of the blue book are available here.

Proposition II: The other state ballot measure Colorado voters must decide on this November