PERRY: Polis and Colorado Dems eat seething GOP lunch of frosted TABOR flakes


Whooda thunk giving away hundreds of dollars in free money to just about everyone in the state would make almost every elected official look pitiful?

Welcome to Colorful Colorado, 2022 Edition.

Gov. Jared Polis and the usual Democratic Party suspects trotted out their big news yesterday that they have felt the pain we’re all feeling at the pump these days. They’ve heard how it eats away at our paychecks — and their poll ratings in an election year.

So with Polis in front of the parade, Dems announced that mostly everybody who lives here and files taxes will soon be getting a check for $400 to help ease the pain inflicted by rising costs of food, gas, rent and Netflix.

The checks aren’t in the mail yet, but they will be just as this year’s election nears, Republican opponents point out, a lot.

What’s the harm in that, you ask? Just ask Colorado Republicans.

“Election Year Jared claiming credit for ‘giving’ money back that would have been rebates under TABOR,” GOP gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl said among one of hundreds of tweets and emails from a swelling army of angry — angry I tell you — Republican partiers, trolls and Trumpers. It’s “The same TABOR he tried to get rid of a couple years ago!”

Republicans are mad as hell because they got out GOP’d by their top Colorado GOP nemesis, Polis.

The GOP mission was excoriation of Polis and Democrats for pulling an election-year prank using that most sacred cash cow of Colorado Republicans: The Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

“Pretty funny that Governor Polis made (Democrat) legislators that hate TABOR show up and applaud TABOR refunds yesterday,” GOP operative Michael Fields said in the day’s most polite tweet.

For those of you who just moved here or just never really cared, Colorado is a freaky farrago of lawmaking. Back in the day when Colorado Republicans began looking more like they do now and far less than when they were moderates like Gov. John Love and state legislators like Tony Grampsas, Al Meiklejohn, Dottie Wham and Claire Traylor, along came Douglas Bruce from California.

Bruce brought that anti-government SoCal crankiness with him, and it caught on. He’s the kind of person who forgets that government is us, not them, and gets convicted for tax evasion, which he did.

Before then, however, he hoodwinked voters into passing the very misnomered Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which has wronged Colorado since 1992.

Essentially, it ended the ability of government to raise taxes without voter approval, and it caps year-over-year spending.

What on the surface might sound like a good idea has been a catastrophe, prompting endless counter “De-Brucing” measures that have made state and local governments sometimes unworkable.

The worst part is, as GOP Sen. Meiklejohn frequently said, community debt is either on the books or in the streets.

You don’t have to drive very far on Colorado’s crappy roads to see how well TABOR has worked out there.

The situation for Colorado schools is even worse, where the Centennial State has for generations been on the bottom of the list of per-pupil spending.

What you get in exchange for hamstringing representative government in Colorado is an occasional check for $20 or so, depending on how good or bad the economy is. 

Like so many things that are bizarre in Colorado, the economy has been red hot despite years of pandemic and all that came with it.

So the state budget “surplus” has grown to a whopping $2 billion, meaning that every taxpayer can expect a few hundred in refunded taxes paid.

The TABOR law and the problems it causes are so complex that describing briefly how you get money back is like summarizing the Theory of Relativity in a fortune cookie.

The TABOR idea is so fabulously bad that in decades, not a single other state has bothered to adopt it. Not even Florida, Colorado’s crazy cousin.

Democrats, including Polis, have argued for years what a bad idea TABOR is and worked to find ways to undo it or at least neutralize it.

They’ve repeatedly failed.

So this beast of burden is causing the state to refund a few hundred dollars to taxpayers, and there ain’t nothin’ anybody can do about it.

Sort of.

What Polis and Democrats did is speed up the check-cutting process, sending back cash sooner rather than later next year, which is standard procedure.

Polis’ mantra is  that Colorado shouldn’t hang onto “your” money when the financial times call for everyone to get some needed cash right now.

Republicans are not just crying foul, but they’re wailing, screeching and foaming at the mouth about it.

“How desperate are (Polis and Colorado Democrats) to bury their failed record of making Colorado less affordable?” Aurora Councilmember and former state GOP operative Dustin Zvonek said in a tweet soon after the announcement.

The gnarly gnashing of conservative tusks echoed across the Twitterverse Monday as one Republican after another expressed their shock and dismay about how diabolical (read: clever and effective) the Polis ploy was and how they didn’t think of it first.

Republicans weren’t the only ones questioning the details and the motivations here. 

Reporters across the state weren’t letting Polis sidestep the fact that this was not some benevolent invention by Democrats but a modification of an existing TABOR refund process Polis and most Dems have fought against for years.

Buried in the main controversy, created by Democrats essentially beating Republicans at their own electioneering game, was who gets how much back and why.

The TABOR quagmire essentially states that the more you pay in taxes, the more you get back in the so-called refund game.

Democrats have long insisted that poorer people, harder hit by everything, especially these days, should get more money back, even and especially at the expense of the wealthy.

I agree. If anyone needs a hand right now, it’s people trying to get by on $15 an hour in a city that takes at least twice that just make frayed ends meet.

Polis reportedly balked at cutting out wealthier Coloradans from the Colorado Cashback scheme, and a compromise was reached. Poor people will get more than they would have. Rich people would get less than they would have. Everybody gets the same. When reporters pressed for why, they didn’t find out.

“Asked twice why the plan does not give the most money to those with the lowest incomes, as Democratic lawmakers have wanted to do, Polis dodged the question and instead spoke generally about how TABOR refunds work,” political reporter Alex Burness wrote in the Denver Post.

That scuttled a new fist-shaking point for Republicans, who stand behind the pay-more, get-more formula.

At the end of the day, Polis and Democrats were peddling $400 checks and a lot of disingenuity. Republicans were trying to gain public sympathy by  beating up on Democrats for wanting to hand out $400 checks.

They got nowhere.

For months, Republicans have tried to hold Colorado Democrats responsible for global supply chain issues, global petroleum crises, global inflation, global pandemic disruptions, Colorado’s growing appeal to businesses and residents and the state’s solid and powerful economy.

Yeah. It’s all pretty dumb.

Whine all you want, Polis makes a damn solid argument that Colorado should hand back money they intend to next year, now instead. It would be just as solid if Republicans had thought of it.

Even though Polis and others have fought hard to end TABOR and the normally paltry refunds, it’s not their fault they’re worth something for once and headed to Colorado taxpayers, whether liberals like it or not. 

I would much rather see this money fix roads, provide affordable health care or better education for people who really need it, but I don’t have a choice, either.

So I’ll take that check, thank you very much, and maybe spend some on a nice Colorado whiskey, sit back and watch Democrats and Republicans duke it out over who’s the worst at exploitation politics.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]


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Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
2 months ago

“If anyone needs a hand right now, it’s people trying to get by on $15 an hour in a city that takes at least twice that just make frayed ends meet.”

Funny how a city turning into a left-wing behavioral sink always seems to end up like this. I guess the “fight for $15” should have been “fight for $100” in order to buy groceries in a hyper-scaled, low-trust urban cesspool.

Local Guy
Local Guy
2 months ago

When you see the disaster of SALT and realize you have a democrat state government it doesn’t take much to understand that without Tabor Colorado would also be a disaster SALT state. State government, just like federal, will never be responsible with tax dollars without things like TABOR. It has its flaws but it keeps the government from being excessively wasteful. I’m sitting here looking at 2 special votes. One is to build a swimming pool and increase operational funds for a rec center. The other is to build more fire stations. Both have been told no before, both won’t take no for an answer even during record high inflation. Now for a shot at success they are depending on low vote turnout by having special elections. TABOR, for all its flaws, is needed as long as fiscally irresponsible people are in charge.

2 months ago

You are so stupid

Max Parrish
Max Parrish
2 months ago

Welp, now that Colorado is blue, expect higher taxes with less accountability. Denver is completely California now.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
2 months ago

We can argue about TABOR till the end of time, and will. Some parts of it may be good and some may be bad, but history has shown that it is not serving us well in totality. But of course, I always love it when Democrats are able to out-republican the republicans and then watch as they squeal.

Last edited 2 months ago by Joe Felice
2 months ago

You could have wrote this article in one or two sentences.The rethugs only hate it because they didn’t think of it.Not that they would either.Their constant do as we say and not as we do motto is so obvious.That’s why this state went blue. Only the 30% or so of the idiots still believe their crap,but unfortunately they have the biggest mouths, so here we are. If only they would have put trump in jail on 1/7

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
2 months ago

I see the Republican/Libertarian greedheads are feeding again…

Matt Fisher
Matt Fisher
2 months ago

Is this for last years taxes?

1 month ago

Dave’s editorial, Dave’s opinion.

My opinion is that TABOR has done what it was intended to do. Restrict Colorado government from getting bigger and bigger for 25, some, years. An increase in taxes, by TABOR, must be voted for by the people. It has been tried and failed many times over those years. To delete or restrict TABOR has been tried and voted down over the years. Seems to me, the voting public has a different view than Dave and this paper have had.

Understand that this paper and Dave Perry believe that more and bigger government will make your life better. I do not. Self regulation and personal hard work will make your life better.