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April 10 2018

Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights Should Be a Model for All States

by Heather Madden

In 1992, the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) Amendment was adopted by Colorado voters to limit government growth and to put Coloradans in control of tax and debt increases. Under TABOR, the state and local government cannot raise taxes or increase the debt without voter approval.

TABOR is unique to Colorado. Currently, no other state in the union has a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

There are important reasons why TABOR is not only justifiable, but necessary.

  1. More Democratic – Referendums are a more democratic way to make decisions on government spending. When it comes to raising taxes or increasing the debt, voters, not legislators—who may be beholden to outside interests—should have the final say. After all, taxpayers are ultimately the ones on the hook for tabs run up by the state. Remember the whole “No taxation without representation” thing? This is about the consent of the governed, a principle so important… it sparked the U.S. Revolution.
  1. Financial Freedom –Under TABOR, lawmakers lack the power to impose higher taxes without consent from the voters. As Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, put it:

“TABOR puts taxpayers in charge of tax and debt increases. Any government in Colorado can jack up taxes as high as they like, and it's all fine. All they have to do is ask first by putting the question on the ballot.”

Reduced taxation allows individuals to spend their money as they see fit and keep more of what they earn, giving families more room in their budgets as well as increased investment and savings.

  1. Better Policies – Coloradans have not only prevented the passage of unnecessary tax increases and debt packages, they have also put a stop to bad policy proposals like the single-payer healthcare initiative known as ColoradoCare, a proposal which would have limited health care access and quality while also creating the highest state payroll and income tax in the United States.
  1. Economic Prosperity - TABOR has helped Colorado’s economy thrive. In the years following the passage of TABOR, Colorado experienced substantial population, per-capita income, and economic growth. Why? Lower tax burdens attract new businesses, which create more job opportunities for workers. Lower tax rates also reduce costs for existing businesses, allowing them to pay workers higher wages and provide better benefits packages.  

The benefits of TABOR are clear. Independent Women’s Forum is proud to be a part of a coalition of groups nationwide that support TABOR and hope to see its positive effects replicated in other states. Check out this coalition letter below to learn more. 

Dear Friends,

This is our line in the sand. The groups below won’t tolerate any more attacks on the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) – the single greatest gift we Colorado voters have ever given ourselves and future generations. We will no longer tolerate the weakening of TABOR as more politicians try to get their hands on more of our money.

For more than two decades, TABOR has been our constitutional guardian keeping the ruling class out of our wallets and keeping them from expanding their own power.  Politicians can raise taxes; they just have to ask us first. Politicians can increase debt; they just have to ask us first. They just can’t take from us without asking. It’s that simple.

Because of TABOR, government can’t grow at a rate faster than inflation plus population.

TABOR is uniquely Colorado. It has helped our economy thrive; and, thanks to TABOR we’ve weathered economic downturns far better than other states.

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, said it perfectly in a column in the Washington Times:

Colorado is home to the best tax and expenditure limitation in the country, called the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. TABOR provides an exoskeleton for those elected officials that lack an endoskeleton (backbone). It should be easiest to fight taxes in Colorado.

TABOR puts taxpayers in charge of tax and debt increases. Any government in Colorado can jack up taxes as high as they like, and it's all fine. All they have to do is ask first by putting the question on the ballot.

TABOR has prevented a massively bloated state government apparatus that would act as a drag on the economy. Voters have rejected multiple state-level tax increases, bad policy ideas, and debt packages including the $25 billion annual tab for government-dictated health care known as Colorado Care.

Instead Coloradans enjoy the freedom to spend and invest as they wish, not as government dictates.

What many who have come here over the last two decades don’t realize is that TABOR is responsible for the economic opportunities that have lured them here just as much as our Rocky Mountains and craft beer.

It’s no secret the ruling class and its sympathetic media have a particular hatred of TABOR. A comment from Natasha Gardner of 5280 magazine captures the anti-TABOR, anti-consent of the governed that is so pervasive today in Colorado political circles:

“If I had to pick a disgrace of the week, of the month, of the 25 years I would say it has to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. TABOR has been so crippling to this state in many, many different ways.”

Translation: the ruling class knows better than you do how to spend your hard-earned dollars.

The threat is real as is the damage that has been done. Two decades of erosion from both sides of the aisle has left TABOR on life support. We won’t tolerate it any more. Those of us who have signed on to this letter pledge to revive and strengthen it.

That’s why we’ve started the TABOR Yes coalition that includes organizations and individuals committed to defending and strengthening TABOR. We hope you will join us.

The lines are clear. If you work to strengthen TABOR, then you are with us. If you work to weaken TABOR, last year’s SB267 is an infamous example, then you are against us.  We will hold accountable anyone who weakens or even threatens TABOR.

We will spend the next several months crisscrossing Colorado celebrating TABOR and educating natives and newcomers alike on the beauty that is TABOR – the right to decide on the size and scope of government WE want.

Visit www.TABORYes.com. Sign our pledge to protect and strengthen TABOR and check out our calendar of events to find out when we will take our TABOR Yes road show to a location near you.

 

Independence Institute

Springs Taxpayers

Centennial Institute

Americans for Prosperity Colorado

Steamboat Institute

Mountain States Legal Foundation

Independent Women’s Forum

Colorado Union of Taxpayers

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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