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| Raising the Minimum Wage
Published By:The Colorado Independent

Total spending on Colorado campaigns initiatives nears $48 million so far

More than $3 million in contributions aided the slate of statewide initiatives in the final campaign finance reporting period before next Tuesday’s election, with more than $1 million in last-minute money bolstering the effort to increase Colorado’s minimum wage.

The two proposals to create a presidential primary and allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries also got a healthy infusion of cash, as did the measure that would make it harder to amend the state constitution.

The late flow of contributions pushed the total raised for Colorado’s ballot initiatives to nearly $48 million.

The effort concerning primary elections, spearheaded by Let Colorado Vote, the issue committee funding the campaigns for both Proposition 107 and 108, brought in more than $600,000.

Most of that came from Kent Thiry, who personally gave $300,000, and DaVita Health Care Partners, the company he heads, which pitched in $100,000. Thiry has given nearly $1.4 million of about $4 million that has gone toward those initiatives. Noble Energy joined the effort with a $200,000 contribution.

2016 COLORADO BALLOT MEASURES

 Amendment 69: ColoradoCare

Amendment 70: Minimum Wage

Amendment 71: Constitutional changes

 Amendment 72: Cigarette taxes

 Proposition 106: Aid-in-dying

 Proposition 107: Presidential primaries

 Proposition 108: Unaffiliated voters

Amendment T: Slavery reference

Amendment U: Property taxes

Ballot Issue 4B: Arts funding

Organized opposition to the propositions has been sparse, with Citizens for Integrity reporting only a total of about $51,000 in non-monetary contributions for the campaign.

More than a half-million dollars rolled into the Raise the Bar campaign supporting Amendment 71, which would make it tougher to get citizen initiatives onto the statewide ballot and require more than a simple majority to pass them.

All but a small slice of that came from energy interests, who put in just shy of $500,000 in this reporting period through Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, which has given more than $2.8 million over the course of the campaign. After initially anticipating a fight against anti-fracking initiatives that ultimately didn’t make the ballot, Protecting Colorado shifted its resources to Amendment 71, which could make it even more difficult for anti-fracking forces to put measures before voters.

Opposition from the Colorado League of Responsible Voters has pumped nearly $840,000 into a campaign against the measure, including $500,000 from the National Education Association and a $100,000 contribution from the River Habitat Preservation Coalition.

A surge in cash donations supported Amendment 70, which would establish a new minimum wage in Colorado. It received much of the more than $1 million in contributions from unions and other organizations that have been supporting minimum wage increases on ballots around the country.

The Colorado campaign now totals nearly $5 million.

The Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, based in New York, pitched in $400,000 to push its total for the campaign over $1 million; the National Education Association and Washington-based Service Employees International Union political action committee gave a series of six-figure contributions.

Opponents, who have raised about $1.7 million, brought in $154,920 on the strength of a handful of five-figure donations, including $50,000 from Greenwood Village-based Colorado Citizens Protecting Our Constitution.

Opposition to Amendment 72, the increased tax on tobacco products, has been funded by more than $16 million from Virginia-based tobacco giant Altria, but reported no additional cash contributions — though that campaign remains by far the most well-funded effort among all statewide ballot measures.

The Campaign for a Healthy Colorado, which has backed the tax that would fund a variety of health-related programs and seek to reduce smoking among young people, added nearly $150,000 — most from health-related entities. It also benefited from a $10,000 donation from Colorado Rockies owner Charlie Monfort.

Contributions to the medical aid-in-dying measure, Proposition 106, appeared to be winding down, though it remained a distant second in fundraising to the tobacco tax with about $8 million raised from both sides.

Supporters of the initiative added a little more than $73,000 to their $5.4 million total, with $50,000 of that coming from Aspen’s Adam Lewis, son of the late Progressive insurance chairman Peter Lewis. Opponents, whose $2.6 million in total contributions has been fueled largely by faith-based organizations led by the Catholic church, added about $255,000. The largest contribution came from Washington, D.C.-based The Catholic Association.

The battle over ColoradoCare, the proposed state-run health care option, also calmed on the campaign finance front, with both sides adding relatively modest five-figure contributions. Opponents of the system have raised more than $4 million while those advancing the initiative have raised less than a half-million dollars.

By The Denver Post

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