The Colorado Springs Gazette, EDITORIAL: Defend taxpayer consent in Colorado by defeating Prop CC
Originally published by The Colorado Springs Gazette, June 20, 2019
By The Editorial Board
If Proposition CC passes on November’s ballot, gutting the public’s right to consent, Colorado’s economy will suffer. Politicians who support the measure will deserve the blame.
At issue is the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, known as TABOR, which keeps the governed in charge of the government. It prevents tax increases without consent of voters. It requires clear and truthful wording of ballot measures that seek tax hikes. Using a formula of population growth and the Gross Domestic Product, TABOR requires the government to return surplus revenues that exceed a fluctuating limit.
Proposition CC, forced onto the ballot by overreaching left-wing legislators, would forever eliminate the right of voters to consent before the government keeps extraordinary surplus revenues that belong to the public.
TABOR has protected the economy and allowed it to flourish. Consider that only one state has TABOR in the state constitution: Colorado. One state consistently enjoys the country’s top economy: Colorado. One state, Colorado, has the two best cities in which to live: Colorado Springs and Denver, based on a national survey by U.S. News & World Report.
For the third straight year in 2019, U.S. News ranked Colorado’s economy No. 1. USA Today likewise ranked Colorado’s economy No. 1 in 2018. The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis consistently ranks our state’s Gross Domestic Product growth in the top 10 nationally. The state’s unemployment rate falls reliably below the national average.
“Colorado takes the No. 1 spot in the economy ranking, with an impressive performance in measures of growth and entrepreneurship,” said Deidre McPhillips, senior data editor at U.S. News & World Report.
Since voters passed TABOR in 1992, Colorado has attracted small businesses, big businesses and all assortment of entrepreneurs who like the stable tax environment provided by the public’s right to consent.
Politicians generally despise TABOR, because they do not like seeking consent. They prefer funding pet projects and slush funds by force, through authoritarian fiat. As such, they launch routine attacks on the law.
Politicians want more, despite the fact they are awash in more than $1 billion in surplus money annually that does not exceed the TABOR threshold. They cannot get enough to feed their insatiable appetites for more of the private sector’s hard-earned cash.
Colorado’s economy is so hot, in large part because of TABOR, government economists anticipate a looming surplus large enough to initiate a half-billion-dollar refund. If surpluses grow, so might future refunds. Returned to the private sector, the money would help households and businesses. The government would continue swimming in excess revenues
Former Republican Sen. Hank Brown and Former Republican Gov. Bill Owens, who supported a five-year suspension of TABOR refunds in 2005, oppose Proposition CC. So do other prominent, moderate Republicans.
“I understand the difference between short-term adjustments during funding crises and permanent blank checks that the state government too often wishes it could write itself,” Owens said in a statement. “Proposition CC is the latter, and for the sake of future generations of Colorado taxpayers, I urge voters to reject it in November.”
Brown describes supporters misleading him and other voters into supporting the 2005 TABOR refund timeout, known as Referendum C. “With Ref C the promise was that a third of the money or more would go to higher education and that never happened. The Legislature simply didn’t do it,” said Brown, as quoted in The Denver Post.
Brown was president of the University of Colorado when he supported the measure, meaning his institution was financially burdened by the lie.
“I’d say we’ve heard it before, and it didn’t work out that way,” Brown said.
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has the audacity to support Prop CC despite campaigning for a state income-tax cut he has failed to pursue. To achieve revenue-neutral pain-free tax relief, Polis need only ask voters to defeat CC. Advocate the return of a fraction of the state’s mountainous supply of surplus cash and declare a promise kept.
Colorado keeps the government in check like no other state, partly by forbidding politicians to spend private-sector revenues without consent of the governed. It makes Colorado the economic envy of the world.
To quell this success, take a chunk out of TABOR. Fund a political spending spree — forever. Adopt the fiscal problems of California, Illinois and other states that don’t bother with consent. Fall off those lists of best economic factors and best places to live. Fix that which ain’t broke.
Otherwise, oppose Prop CC. It means saying yes to economic growth, high employment, rising wages, robust tax revenues and generous charitable donations. Hold the governed above the governing class. Protect the right of consent by trouncing CC on November’s ballot.