EDITORIAL: Prop CC offers equity to taxpayers cheated by a broken TABOR


proposition CC is easy to understand. All it does is rectify the state’s problematic TABOR law to do what most people in Colorado think it does.

That’s it.

If you’re like most people who’ve recently moved here, you probably don’t even know what the so-called Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is. If you’ve lived here for long, you probably think the TABOR thing permits only voters to raise taxes.

The biggest problem with TABOR is that voter-approved taxes is only a small part of this defective state constitutional amendment.

Proposition CC only modifies the parts of TABOR that strangles state and local governments. It fixes the parts of this 1992 state constitutional amendment that has led to dismal highways, underfunded schools and unaffordable college tuition. 

TABOR was the brainchild of real-estate investor Douglas Bruce. Hence, that’s why when dozens of Colorado cities, counties and school districts across the state have created local versions of Prop CC, they dub them “De-Bruce-ing” measures. Bruce moved here from southern California and went on to make history as one of the state’s most dubious public figures. A notorious tax protester, he became equally as infamous for kicking a newspaper photographer at the State Capitol, being convicted of tax evasion and by being admonished by courts as a slumlord here and in Pennsylvania.

Bruce and other fringe anti-tax proponents have long billed TABOR as a panacea for limited government.

It’s not. It’s a sham.

Sold as a way to give the power of tax increases to voters, it was written to give real-estate investors tax relief and force the government from growing — even as the state did.

Because TABOR restricted spending in myriad ways the voting public never understood, Public schools are funded so poorly that Colorado regularly makes the very bottom of the list for school spending. There’s too little money for college investment, so parents and students must pay endless and apparently limitless tuition hikes.

Colorado is now choking on road debt. State highway officials estimate there is more than $9 billion worth of just basic unmet road needs in Colorado. That doesn’t count desperately needed mass-transit projects in large metro areas.

Despite all the broken promises and spin, Colorado taxes are as average among other states as they always have been.

The biggest clue to TABOR’s failures is that after more than 20 years, not one single other state has adopted anything like it. It’s that bad of an idea.

One of the many oddities of TABOR is that it not only restricts tax increases, it sets a limit on all taxes the state can collect without raising rates. When the state reaches that limit, it mandates “refunds” to residents.

Those “refunds” are almost always the result of state growth. Colorado can’t keep pace with the growth, however, because it can’t spend the money that comes from everyone paying their fair share.

The ballot questions is nothing more than a timely compromise offer to fix TABOR. It does not raise taxes.  It preserves what most people believe TABOR does. It ensures that only voters can raise taxes.

Proposition CC offers fairness to Colorado residents who pay their taxes and just want to enjoy a state that is able to use them to take care of the essential services it should. Vote yes.