Denver Voters spooked by a sluggish economy soundly rejected a measure aimed at removing thousands of Coloradans with developmental disabilities from the waiting lists for state assistance.
What was touted as this election year's feel-good measure was defeated by Colorado voters by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio. The margin was slightly less in Routt County, but voters here still overwhelmingly voted against Amendment 51.
Voters appeared to be in no mood to increase the state sale tax, albeit by a small percentage, in a recession, said political pundits and the measure's backers.
"The economy was the issue," said Marjio Rymer of ARC of Colorado and chairwoman of the coalition to End the Developmental Disability Wait List. "We couldn't have predicted the fall of the world economy, but we will be back."
Amendment 51 would have increased the state sales tax by 2 cents on every $10 to fund services for the developmentally disabled.
More than 12,000 children and adults with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and mental retardation are on waiting lists for either immediate care or lifelong services, Rymer said.
David Braddock, with the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado, told lawmakers last year that Colorado's expenditures for the developmentally disabled were 73 percent below the national average.
The measure's downfall means that the disabled community now must rely on the legislature to take action at a time when the state is grappling with falling revenues and budget shortfalls.