Don't raise taxes, GOP leaders urge

Former Senate President John Andrews and former Speaker of the House Lola Spradley, along with two of their Republican predecessors in legislative leadership, held a news conference at the State Capitol yesterday announcing their opposition to the Referendum C tax increase. Andrews and Spradley were joined by Ray Powers and Bev Bledsoe in signing a letter to the 28 current legislators who opposed the tax hike and defended TABOR.

Here is the full text of the letter:

JOHN ANDREWS LOLA SPRADLEY Former Senate President Former Speaker of the House 2003-2005 2003-2005

RAY POWERS BEV BLEDSOE Former Senate President Former Speaker of the House 1999-2001 1981-1991

Dear Colleague:

As former Republican members of the Colorado General Assembly, each experienced in legislative leadership, we write to thank you for voting against House Bill 05-1194, which will come before the voters this fall as Referendum C.

In opposing this huge tax increase, which will transfer $3.6 billion or more from private hands to public budgets if it passes, you did the right thing for taxpayers, the right thing for working families, the right thing for prosperity, and the right thing for limited government.

Our vote on the Nov. 1 ballot will be the same as your vote on the roll call – No on Referendum C. Our concerns about this measure and its companion debt proposal, Referendum D, are as follows:

** We see no evidence of a budget crisis when the Democrat-led legislature has just increased spending by over 4%.

** We are concerned about over-reach when a projected shortfall next year in the $230 million range is used to justify taking $476 million in higher revenues – twice the amount supposedly needed.

** We are concerned about the blank-check feature of this plan, giving taxpayers no fixed price tag and allowing government to keep all revenues for five years without regard to annual TABOR limits of population and inflation.

** We caution against the impression that the plan is mainly about building highways, since roads would get only $1 billion of the $5.6 billion that voters are being asked to approve – $2 billion from lenders plus $3.6 billion from taxpayers.

** We worry about the feature of Referendum C that would forever ratchet up state spending by making the highest year in this decade a new floor for allowed annual increases.

** This change would gut the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights as a meaningful limit on big government.

** In addition, this change would effectively amend the state constitution – without proper 2/3 approval by the General Assembly – thereby ensuring a wasteful court battle.

** We believe, in conclusion, that this cannot really be called a budget fix when it ignores the large distorting effects of Amendment 23 education mandates to focus exclusively on the lesser distorting effects of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Persons of good will can differ honorably on whether to support this proposal for billions of dollars in bigger government. But our conclusion, after studying the issue, is that the plan is not good for Colorado – and so it should be turned down by voters.

We will do our part in coming months, as you have already done in months past, to achieve that outcome. And we thank you again for standing strong in support of TABOR and taxpayers.


Addressees for Letter: Nine of 17 Republicans in the Senate and 19 of 30 in the House, a majority in each chamber, including the respective leaders, Sen. Hillman and Rep. Stengel, courageously voted No on the tax increase. From Senate Journal of 4/4 and House Journal of 4/18, here are the No votes on HB-1194.

SENATORS - Jim Dyer - John Evans - Mark Hillman - Ed Jones - Doug Lamborn - Ron May - Andy McElhany - Shawn Mitchell - Tom Wiens

REPRESENTATIVES - David Balmer - Greg Brophy - Bill Cadman - Lauri Clapp - Mark Cloer - Bill Crane - Richard Decker - Ted Harvey - Lynn Hefley - Jim Kerr - Keith King - Matt Knoedler - Larry Liston - Kevin Lundberg - Mike May - Josh Penry - Dave Schultheis - Joe Stengel - Jim Welker