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Welcome Back TABOR!

by john stephenson / /

Call me crazy, but I feel like singing. Why? I want to celebrate the end of Colorado's Referendum C and the full Return of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR).

TABOR is the strongest set of taxpayer protections and spending limits in the country. TABOR requires the Colorado state government to return excess taxes to the people in the form of rebates, limits government growth to a formula of population growth plus inflation, and allows tax increases only through a popular vote. Since 1992, TABOR lowered Colorado's income and sales taxes, and by 2001 returned $3.2 billion in refunds to taxpayers.

But since 1992 tax and spenders in Colorado have bemoaned TABOR. These special interests, especially public employee union and others who live off of government largess, claim that TABOR has led to so-called "crippling cuts" in government services. The tax and spenders ignore the fact that TABOR does not stop the growth of government; it only keeps it to a more manageable size. In fact, Colorado's education spending has grown by at least 1/3 and math and reading test scores have consistently been above the national average.

In 2005, the tax and spenders waged a massive campaign to suspend TABOR and succeeded in enacting Referendum C, which suspended the limits on government expenditures for five years. Between 2006 and this year, Coloradans missed out on approximately $5 billion in tax relief while the government grew. Moreover, Referendum C did not live up to its promises to save the government from draconian cuts. What's ironic is that without Referendum C, the cuts probably would have been more gradual. On July 1st, the suspension ended.

On Tuesday, I was in Colorado to speak at a press conference, along with Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute, Marty Nielson with the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, Joshua Culling of Americans for Tax Reform, State Senator Shawn Mitchell, Amy Oliver with Mothers Against Debt, and Laura Carno with Americans for Prosperity Colorado, recognizing the return of TABOR. You can read about it here.

As I said at the press conference, "NTU's members welcome the end of Referendum C and the beginning of a new chapter in the TABOR success story. We will work with groups like the Independence Institute, Mothers Against Debt, Colorado Union of Taxpayers, Americans for Tax Reform, and Americans for Prosperity Colorado, and individuals like State Senator Shawn Mitchell, to ensure the strongest taxpayer protections remain in place well into the future."

Welcome back, TABOR!