It fries me when anyone tries to make my Republican Party, the party of Lincoln and Reagan, the party of liberty and limited government, into the party of tax and spend. It ain't so. Contrary to recent news stories suggesting the Referendum C & D tax increase has split the GOP down the middle, a clear majority of Republicans in Colorado want nothing to do with this Democrat-endorsed plan. Polling shows 54% opposed and 15% undecided -- only 31% in favor. In an election that would be called a landslide.
A recent straw vote at the Arapahoe County Republican executive committee went 20-0 against the tax hike. State Rep. Dale Hall, R-Weld County, who sits on the Joint Budget Committee and supported the C & D package legislatively, now says he will vote "no" on the Ref D (debt) measure and is "hedging" on Ref C.
Jefferson County Republicans invited their own state Sen. Norma Anderson to make the case in favor of this referendum, and me as former Senate President to make the case against it, at a debate on July 20. About 80 party activists attended. Informal estimates put the "no" side at 2-1 or 3-1, similar to the statewide poll cited above.
To open the debate I outlined ten reasons for a "no" vote. During cross-examination I posed three questions to the other side, none of which I felt were answered convincingly. These materials appear below.
The evening, for me, gave more proof that our Colorado GOP has not lost its way. Most Republicans still agree with Reagan that bigger government is the problem, not the answer. Most in our party want to keep taxes down, keep TABOR strong, and balance the budget on the spending side. With hard work and clear thinking, my party will lead a winning coalition to accomplish that by beating C & D on election day.
-------------------------------------------------------------- TEN NO’S ON REFERENDUM C & D The Ballot Issues Deserve a No Vote For All These Reasons
- No budget crisis.
There is no crisis in the state budget. Overall spending has continued to grow every single year, even during the recession. It’s now at an all-time high.
- No price tag.
There is no price tag on this tax increase, no upper limit on its cost to Colorado families. It was going to be $3.1 billion, now it’s $3.6 billion, soon it could be $4 billion or more as our prosperity continues to expand.
- No guarantee.
There is no guarantee that all those tax dollars will be spent on what the Democrats promised. The list in Referendum C can be changed by the legislature next year, and Democrats’ behavior this year did not inspire trust.
- No yardstick.
There is no yardstick to measure improved performance in the bureaucratic monopoly systems of education, transportation, and health care that all this money is supposed go into, assuming the Democrats do spend it as promised.
- No relief on 23.
There is no relief in this tax increase and public debt obligation from the heavy burden of Amendment 23 – annual, automatic education spending increases regardless of poor performance in the classroom.
- No downside on TABOR.
There is no downside to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights that would justify this attempt to cancel its refunds and weaken its protections. TABOR’s fiscal guardrails have kept our budget from going over the edge as California’s did. Let’s not dismantle them now.
- No benefit from debt.
There is no benefit to saddling ourselves with a massive public debt obligation for state roads and buildings. Colorado has built these facilities pay as you go with few exceptions since 1876. Let’s not start gambling with credit card government.
- No legal authority.
There is no legal authority for a referred statute like Referendum C purporting to change the constitutional provisions of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, in terms of resetting the base year and canceling all refunds with no stated dollar amount.
- No economic logic.
There is no economic logic in expecting that government taking $3 or $4 billion out of the private sector and giving it to bureaucrats will help the private sector create jobs and increase prosperity.
- No political logic.
There is no political logic in you and me as Republicans helping the Democrats win next year’s election for governor and legislature by giving away our No. 1 best issue, low taxes and a strong TABOR amendment.
- First Question
: Given that the Democrats increased this year’s general fund by 6.8% instead of holding back new-found revenues for next year’s anticipated shortfall – given that the Senate President and the Speaker tried to play games with spending the same money twice on child care, a new health insurance program for small business, and a mass transit set-aside under Referendum C, how can voters have any confidence that the money will be used as promised if this tax increase passes?
- Second Question
: Do you think the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has been good or bad for Colorado? Why should a referendum that weakens TABOR and massively increases taxes be called the Economic Recovery Act? How can higher taxes stimulate prosperity?
- Third Question
: Given that if this referendum passes, the Democrats will claim they were right about taxes and TABOR and our legislators and governor were wrong about those things – until Dems won the 2004 election and forced us to agree with them – given that low taxes are a signature issue for Republicans -- Bush’s father lost reelection by raising taxes and Bush won reelection by cutting them – if we as Republicans help to pass this tax increase, aren’t we handing the Democrats a huge advantage for winning the governor’s office and holding the legislature next year?