Several Colorado-based and national taxpayer groups joined together on July 13 to mark the end of Referendum C and the full restoration of Colorado’s landmark limited-government law, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).
To celebrate the return of TABOR, a news conference was held in the State Capitol, receiving much attention from Colorado media outlets. Participating groups included the Independence Institute, Mothers Against Debt, Colorado Union of Taxpayers, Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity Colorado, and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU). State Senator Shawn Mitchell attended to express his support for TABOR and discuss the measure’s remarkable past and promising future.
Colorado’s TABOR is the strongest set of taxpayer protections in the country. Voters passed TABOR in 1992, but Referendum C was enacted in 2005. Under Referendum C’s “TABOR timeout,” Coloradans missed out on $5 billion in tax rebates, and state spending grew unchecked. On July 1 Referendum C’s provisions expired, and the prospect of refunds will return a few years’ hence.
NTU’s State Government Affairs Manager, John Stephenson, represented his organization’s 7,300 members in Colorado at the news conference. Stephenson says the TABOR guarantees of refunds of excessive taxes, restricting spending to sensible growth rates, and giving Coloradans the ability to vote on tax increases have been instrumental in growing the state’s economy and protecting it from the worst effects of recessions.
TABOR helped facilitate reductions in both the state’s income and sales tax rates, and by 2001 the government had returned $3.2 billion in refunds to taxpayers. Over the years, however, special interests have tried to repeal or weaken the law, which is precisely what happened in 2005 with Referendum C.
Tax Relief on the Way
“Now Coloradans can look forward to tax relief in years ahead and take comfort in knowing that the ultimate authority to keep government budgets under control lies with them,” Stephenson said at the press conference.
Prior to Stephenson’s presentation, NTU asked its members in Colorado to explain why TABOR is important to them. Stephenson shared these often-pointed, sometimes poignant stories at the Denver event.
One NTU supporter wrote, “TABOR has enabled Colorado to protect us against the economic extremes that the rest of the country has had to endure. We are better off with taxpayers making the tax decisions instead of politicians.”
Amy Oliver, president of Mothers Against Debt, made an equally cogent point at the Denver news conference when she stated, “[TABOR] is the only line of defense between spending bullies who work in this building and working families.”
Rachael Slobodien ([email protected]) is communications manager for the National Taxpayers Union.