(The Center Square) - A few months after Coloradans overwhelmingly passed another income tax cut, a progressive public policy center released a poll showing the public wants more funding and a fairer tax code.
After passing Proposition 116 in 2020 to lower the income tax from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent, more than 65 percent of Colorado voters passed Proposition 121 last November to lower the rate to 4.40 percent.
Global Strategy Group, which conducted the poll for the Bell Policy Center, found 74 percent of voters agreed Colorado "needs a better tax system that ensures the wealthy pay their fair share and that priorities like schools, transportation and healthcare have the resources they need."
Jesse Mallory, state director for Americans for Prosperity Colorado, a conservative advocacy group, said the poll directly contradicts the November election results favoring lowering taxes.
"Their messaging that people don't want lower taxes is wild considering 63 of 64 counties voted for the cut, all except Boulder," Mallory said. "I mean it just flies in the face of reality."
A media release from the center acknowledged the contradiction.
"Results at the ballot box in recent years might suggest that Coloradans are opposed to new taxes to pay for things the state needs," the release said. "This poll shows that's not the case, and underscores other opinion surveys the Bell has commissioned over the last few years that show Coloradans favor more funding for public priorities but also want a tax code that is fairer, more progressive and calls on the state's wealthiest residents to pay more."
Bell Policy Center President Scott Wasserman added in the release that "the public will for a fairer tax code is strong in Colorado."
"Now we need the political will to match it," he said. "Voters want a lot more tools on the table and everyone must push for a bigger conversation about what an adequate, fair and sustainable tax code looks like."
The results from Global Strategy stated "Colorado voters want to see higher taxes to fund important priorities and strongly back increased taxes on the wealthy. Nearly three in four voters (74 percent) agree that 'Colorado needs a better tax system that ensures the wealthy pay their fair share and that priorities like schools, transportation, and health care have the resources they need.' "
Mallory said some organization's polling results show research participants were led to make specific conclusions.
"I'm always just a little skeptical when somebody releases something that seems to fly in the face of what we just witnessed," Mallory said. "If I'm going to release a poll or a question, I always try to make sure it is as passionately neutral where someone would say, 'Of course people said that.' And this one makes you pause."
Global Strategy's research found voters "support raising taxes to better fund the state's priorities, with a robust 61 percent to 38 percent majority agreeing that they 'would generally be supportive of raising taxes to improve funding for priorities like schools, roads, and health care' and an even bigger 71 percent to 28 percent majority agreeing that 'income taxes on the wealthiest Coloradans are too low.'"
The poll also found 74 percent approved of the legislature's action to provide tax rebates of $750 for single filers and $1,500 for joint filers. It found 61 percent support for eliminating "rebate checks for Coloradans who make $500,000 or more per year."
"I thought it was fascinating to see in there a suggestion that Bell is conceding the debate on keeping the refunds," Mallory said. "Now the conversation is who should get them back versus having the government keep them. That's an interesting change and we're starting to see this among legislators at the capital."