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Colorado Vote to Weaken Tax Limit a Temporary Setback, Not a Total Loss, Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group Says

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(Alexandria, VA) -- Yesterday's narrow win for a plan sponsored by state officials to suspend part of Colorado's landmark Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) will not deter grassroots activists in-state or elsewhere from continuing the struggle for limited government, the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) predicted. The non-partisan citizen group, which has nearly 7,000 members in Colorado, has advised TABOR supporters since their efforts began some 15 years ago. NTU President John Berthoud offered the following reaction to the vote:

"Yesterday's election result in Colorado is a disappointing, but not disastrous, development for the nationwide tax revolt. By spending $4.4 million in just over three months, three-fourths of it from firms and groups that have a direct stake in bigger government, supporters of Referendum C and D merely showed that when they dump enough money into a smear campaign, they can drag a slim four percent majority of Coloradoans into their clutches. Tellingly, they still lost on the Referendum D vote.

Their lone victory may prove short-lived, since the politicians who backed these measures can only put on a fiscally-responsible face for so long. Just one government spending scandal will likely turn the public's reluctant 'yes' vote into regret -- and then full-fledged revolt. Furthermore, Referendum C uses the questionable tactic of altering a Constitutional Amendment backed by 54 percent of the voters with a statute backed by 52 percent of the voters. Even if a court does uphold this procedure, citizens will only have greater power to reverse yesterday's results through a future initiative of their own.

NTU has been involved in every major tax limitation campaign over the past 35 years, including Proposition 13 in California and Amendment 1 in Colorado. Most of these victories involved numerous petition drives, court cases, and setbacks at the polls before they became institutional protections for taxpayers. So it will be with Colorado, where our members will demand that every dollar of their confiscated refunds be spent efficiently.

Furthermore, activists mounting TABOR drives in Oklahoma, Maine, Tennessee, Nevada, and other states are already learning from yesterday's election and are preparing to meet the challenges facing them. Indeed, Oklahoma voters gave Colorado's original TABOR a boost in March of 1992, when they approved an Amendment requiring voter approval for state-level taxes. Sooner State voters may once again serve as a bellwether in 2006.

In the months, years, and decades ahead, we will not be deterred from giving taxpayers a greater voice over how much government they can afford."

NTU was founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government; its research affiliate has organized the "National Taxpayers Conference" training session for activists since 1989. Note: One of NTU's recent projects was the "TABOR Fact of the Day" series at www.ntu.org.

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