The Colorado Women’s Alliance Opposes Proposition CC – Crippling the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is Not the Answer
September 10, 2019
This November, our ballots will contain a deceptively-worded measure that asks for our vote. Proponents say Proposition CC is a “solution” to our state’s alleged budgetary woes, but it’s really a blank check for a tax increase drawn on our pocketbooks with zero accountability that would permanently cripple our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
For those who aren’t familiar our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, also known as TABOR, it’s simple. TABOR promotes transparent, consensual, and good, fair government. Ever since voters approved it in 1992, this constitutional amendment has been an indispensable voter check and balance on state government growth. TABOR provides reasonable limitations on revenue collection (population growth plus inflation) and general government debt.
If government wants to grow by more, all it has to do is ask voters. Coloradans are lucky to live in a state where we get to decide on the size and scope of government we want and are willing to pay for.
Last year the Colorado Women’s Alliance asked nearly 2,000 female voters – across all political spectrums – what their top priorities were. Education, primarily paying good teachers well, was the number two concern, only behind the rising cost of healthcare. Since TABOR passed, the State budget has grown 306 percent and, still, the legislature is unwilling to prioritize what our families need – well-paid teachers and roads. Even though education spending is up 20 percent since 1990, teacher pay is actually down 20 percent when adjusted for inflation. That’s disgraceful. We shouldn’t enable lawmakers’ lack of interest in drafting a responsible budget.
First, let’s be clear. There is no budget crisis. Even the Denver Post agrees that our state is flush with cash.
TABOR frustrates some legislators because it keeps them from wildly spending our families’ hard-earned tax dollars without our consent. Still, legislators do find ways to circumvent TABOR, without our consent. Even though voters have rejected six statewide tax increases over the last several years, in the last decade our state budget has grown 71 percent while population is up only 15 percent.
No wonder the Denver Post agrees we don’t have a budget crisis and no wonder we Coloradans LOVE our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. A recent poll showed that 72 percent of Coloradans support TABOR. We want to keep some control.
Second, the ballot language claims that Prop CC will help fund Colorado’s roads and schools without a tax increase. That’s false. When the government keeps more of our money and spends it, it’s a tax increase. Current projections indicate that Proposition CC’s passage would cost taxpayers $1.3 billion in refunds over the next three years alone. For some families, that’s over $1,000 in some years. Coloradans rejected the last six statewide tax hikes because we want our government to be more efficient with the $32.5 billion budget it already receives.
Prop CC would cripple TABOR, take away our TABOR refunds forever, and take away our right to vote on TABOR tax refunds forever. As if that isn’t bad enough, Prop CC also would permanently eliminate the spending cap on government. There is no sunset and no real accountability to taxpayers. And make no mistake, despite what proponents and the ballot language says, Prop CC is a tax increase.
Finally, not only Prop CC a tax increase, but it’s also a blank check. Lawmakers admitted in a committee hearing earlier this year that there is no guarantee that Proposition CC’s money will go toward roads and schools in the future.
If Colorado’s legislators were truly interested in funding roads and schools without a tax increase, they should prioritize these items in our state’s budget. The legislature doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a prioritization problem.
Just like our families must prioritize our budgets each month, the legislature must prioritize the budget, too. Since TABOR passed, our budget has grown 306 percent and, still, the legislature is unwilling to prioritize what our families need – well-paid teachers and roads.
For these reasons, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Women’s Alliance unanimously voted to oppose this ballot measure.
By Amy Oliver Cooke
Colorado Women’s Alliance