DENVER - In this election cycle, issue committees are spending more money in support of the amendment to change Colorado's school funding system than any other issue. In recent campaigns, however, the groups that spent the most money were not victorious.
The Colorado Secretary of State's Transparency in Contribution and Expenditure Reporting (TRACER) system indicates the issue committee called Colorado Commits to Kids has spent $9.4 million and has almost $3.3 million more on hand. The organization's stated purpose is to "support education funding ballot measures, including initiative 2013-14 #22."
Initiative 22 was renamed Amendment 66 upon receiving approval to be on the ballot this year. If approved by the voters, it will raise income taxes in two tiers and earmark the new revenues for educational spending. It will also change rules for how education funding is calculated and distributed throughout Colorado.
The Associated Press has reported that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates are among the biggest contributors to the issue committee. Bloomberg added $1.05 million to the effort and the Gates family contributed $1 million.
But recent history in Colorado proves the campaign with the most money is not necessarily the most likely to win. State senators from Colorado Springs and Pueblo were both recalled in September despite spending more money than their competitors.
Together the top four committees supporting Pueblo Sen. Angela Giron and Colorado Springs Sen. John Morse spent almost $3 million. The top four committees in favor of the recalls spent just 17 percent of that, but both senators were recalled in landslides and Republican challengers were elected to replace them.
According to TRACER, Republican groups are the richest political party committees in the state. The top two Republican entries indicate they have almost $1.18 million on hand. Democratic Party entries occupy the next four spots on the list, but total $715,851.