Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Anti-tax zealots defeated in Colorado

Great news from Colorado! In a defeat for Grover Norquist and his allies, Colorado voters yesterday passed Referendum C, repealing TABOR (the "Taxpayers Bill of Rights"):
Colorado residents have voted to suspend their Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, the strictest government spending limit in the nation, and give up more than $3 billion in tax refunds to help the state bounce back from a recession.

Fiscal conservatives were dismayed at the outcome Tuesday night and worried about its impact on other states considering similar spending limits.

But supporters said Colorado couldn't afford to vote no, not with higher education, health care and transportation already suffering from millions of dollars in budget cuts.
Colorado's ProgressNow had this to say:
"Governor Owens deserves a lion-share of the credit for standing up against the extreme right-wing and working so hard for a better future for Colorado," stated Michael Huttner, Executive Director of "We applaud Governor Owens along with Speaker Romanoff and Senator Fitz-Gerald for their leadership."

The voters of Colorado sent a strong message to Grover Norquist and his far-right followers to stop mucking around in their business.

"The people of Colorado have spoken and their message is clear: Grover, keep your hands off our state," noted Huttner.
A bit of background: Colorado's TABOR law was spearheaded by a man named Douglas Bruce, who is Colorado's version of Tim Eyman (Washington) and Bill Sizemore (Oregon). Bruce is also in cahoots with Grover Norquist on the national level.

What is TABOR? Here's some background from the Denver Post:
TABOR curbs the power of elected officials to raise taxes and sets strict limits for spending increases by tying them to population growth and inflation.

TABOR is the pinnacle of fiscal conservatism, the gold standard for controlling government growth and the national model for the tax-limit movement.
Colorado's TABOR law is (now, of course, it's was)somewhat similar to Washington's Initiative 601, which state lawmakers scrapped this year in order to make stronger investments in education and transportation. TABOR was much more restrictive than I-601, however.

Conservatives in Colorado reacted bitterly to the news:
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is "as good as dead" in Colorado, state Rep. Joe Stengel told conservative state leaders from across the country this afternoon.

Stengel said Colorado voters delivered the fatal blow Tuesday when they approved Referendum C, which would let state government keep and spend an estimated $3.7 billion instead of refunding it to taxpayers over five years, and would prevent the state’s allowable spending base from falling with a recession, as it did in 2001.

Stengel, the House minority leader, was talking to more than 40 conservative leaders on a noontime conference call today. The call was supposed to offer advice to those leaders on how to pass their own versions of TABOR.

"I think we now have become a blue state, frankly,’’ Stengel said during the phone meeting arranged by the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Tax Reform. However, some of those leaders implored Colorado conservatives to avoid painting the Ref C victory as the end of TABOR.

"Please be considerate of the other states," said Mary Adams of Maine, who is spearheading that state’s drive to get its own TABOR. "We now need for you folks not to crumble."
How ironic. The "leading state" in this backwards, restrictive movement just voted to largely wipe TABOR out of the constitution.

The fight's not over, but this is a great victory. We can only hope that next week, Washington State will enjoy a similar victory with the defeat of Initiative 912.

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