This November, Coloradans will consider three extreme ballot measures, Amendments 60, 61, and Proposition 101, dubbed the "Bad 3 ." Conceived by notorious anti-government advocate Doug Bruce and billed as tax relief, these proposals would actually threaten the economy and decimate budgets at the state and local level, leaving Colorado with limited ability to invest in communities or necessary public structures.
The recklessness of the initiatives is clear:
Amendment 60 would require school districts to cut property taxes in half by 2020, void previous elections that retained property tax revenues above TABOR limits, and force the state to fill the gap in school funding.
Amendment 61 would prohibit any state debt financing and place a limit on local bonds for school, fire, and hospital construction.
Finally, Proposition 101 would cut state income taxes to 3.5 percent and cap certain fees.
Republicans Denounce Tax Cuts: Progressives have fought diligently to oppose these "backward-thinking " and fiscally irresponsible initiatives. Organizations, such as ProgressNow Colorado, the Colorado Progressive Coalition, the Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, and countless others have expressed their opposition. In addition, numerous state and local officials, county boards, and small businesses have come out against Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101.
What's notable is that several conservative lawmakers have also refused to support them. As reported in the Denver Post , 23 of 27 GOP lawmakers in the state House and 5 of 14 GOP state senators have signed a letter stating that these measures are "so far overreaching that it will ultimately kill Colorado jobs and strip local governments' ability to provide police and fire protection and to educate our children." Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, who sits on the state's Joint Budget Committee, argued:
Those (initiatives) are actually more anarchy than they are fiscally conservative. If those pass, I have no idea what we will do.
Measures Could Cost 73,000 Jobs: In the 2010 Blue Book , the nonpartisan Colorado Legislative Council finds that, if approved, "the measures are estimated to reduce state taxes and fees by $2.1 billion and... would commit almost all of the state's general operating budget to paying for... K-12 education, leaving little for other government services. In addition, the prohibition on borrowing will increase budget pressures." On top of that, the proposals would cause the state to lose 73,000 jobs, mainly in transportation, health care, and construction, and lead to a cumulative state and local deficit of $4.2 billion.
Avoiding Another TABOR: Colorado has had a damaging experience with tax-limiting proposals. In 1992, Colorado approved TABOR (The "Taxpayer Bill of Rights"), which imposes a rigid straitjacket on a state's ability to generate revenue. The repercussions included large declines in K-12 and higher education funding, increased tuition rates, the elimination of an affordable housing loan and grant program, and an exponential rise in the the number of children and adults who lacked health insurance. Voters partially repudiated TABOR at the ballot box in 2005, yet TABOR's heinous legacy has left its mark on the state.
Even conservatives now understand that Colorado can ill afford another reckless tax-cutting experiment that will harm the economy, shred public services, and threaten Colorado families.