Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights
By Seamas Mulvihill - February 7, 2020
Going into 2020 we live in one of the best Colorado economies to date. Our metropolitan life is booming with top tier craft breweries, high caliber restaurants and entertainment in high supply. As of 2016 our GDP was over 29 Billion dollars. In 2019 Colorado ranked 7th in regard to real GDP growth. Many mainstream financial newspapers have ranked us as the nation’s top economy in recent years. From agriculture, oil/gas, national defense, real estate and tech, we have a rather diverse spectrum of industry.
Many people may wonder what cultural and political factors have allowed us to flourish in this manner. In reality, this climate has certainly come by no accident and is threatened by coastal political figures manipulating the state's politics and ultra-progressives attempting to challenge the existence of vital industries and constitutional taxation caps.
In 1992 TABOR (Tax Payer's Bill of Rights) was passed as a constitutional amendment aimed at preventing the political class from raising taxes without the consent of the people. “The TABOR limit 'base' is equal to the lesser of the prior fiscal year's revenue limit grown by Colorado inflation and population growth, or the current fiscal year's revenue” (TABOR). In short, TABOR makes sure that the government is only allowed to raise taxes with population growth and inflation or a vote by the people. Douglas Edward Bruce, the creator of TABOR, was well aware of how corrupt government contractors and officials can be when it comes to ethically spending the peoples' tax money. He has made many statements about how unaccountable politicians are when making promises for free services at the expense of the state’s economy. This can be clearly seen in states like New Jersey and Massachusetts, which are over 65 billion dollars in debt. Both states already have some of the highest income and property taxes in the country, while government bureaucrats see some of the highest and most unsustainable pension systems.
TABOR ensures a system of checks and balances on responsible fiscal action similar to how our system of government has many systems of checks and balances to prevent abuse by one political party or the other with the balance of presidential power, senate power, house power and the supreme court. It can also be compared to the electoral college that aims to prevent the tyranny of majority which would allow large coastal cities to control the nation's politics and take away voices of people in smaller states. Ultimately, the Tax Payer's Bill of Rights is a very American solution to over spending, government corruption and the political class going against the views of the people. If such a policy were put into law in places like California and New York, it’s likely that they wouldn’t be facing such serious flight due to abusive taxation. This can be seen by the recent wave of Californians and New Yorkers fleeing to states like Texas, Colorado and the Mid-West and setting up tax sanctuaries in Wyoming and other low-income tax shelters.
Recently the Tax Payer's Bill of Rights and its spirit have come under serious attack by people like governor Jared Polis, John Hickenlooper, and out of state political organizations and donors. Proposition CC, a proposal on the ballot in fall 2019, was one of the most recent attacks on TABOR. It aimed to take away the surplus money that is given back to Colorado Citizens using deceptive language, saying that it wasn’t really a tax and pulling the heart strings of Colorado citizens by claiming that it was for the children in schools and road systems which was similar to the strategy under the cannabis tax. Under the cannabis tax, we were all told how much it would help the children and change our educational system, although many have yet to see any data linking the tax to student performance boosts. About half the money funding the CC campaign came from places like New York and California, and its intention was out of a classic progressive playbook to slowly eat away at TABOR and lie to the people by saying taking more of their money somehow isn’t a tax.
Prior to Propostion CC, John Hickenlooper supported adding hidden government bed fees in hospitals that proponents in our legal system said aren’t really taxes. It’s hard to understand how the government taking more of our money without consent isn’t a tax. In reality, it is just another deceptive move demonstrating that the political class will do anything to take more of your hard-earned money even by using deceptive language and questionable legal tactics to do it. The spirit of these politicians is just why we need TABOR.
The Rise of Socialism in America painted as “Democratic Socialism,” whose supporters often glorify socialist and communist regimes, have the objective of taking away your money, private industry and freedoms protected under the Tax Payer's Bill of Rights. TABOR is worth fighting for now more than ever, and it is time to make a stand.
“TABOR.” TABOR | Colorado General Assembly, leg.colorado.gov/agencies/legislative-council-staff/tabor.