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Monday, December 6, 2010

The rhetoric sounds familiar

My OpEd in the Denver Post. Originally Published Oct. 24, 2010.

Mark Twain is believed to have said, "History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot." We have certainly heard the tune surrounding the anti-Amendments 60, 61, and Propositions 101 camp before.


Anti-Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) advocates used the same hyperbolic scare tactics that we are seeing now. Fortunately (and unsurprisingly) the dooms day predictions about TABOR turned out to be completely wrong.

Colorado thrived once people were allowed to keep their money and the state did not experience "economic Armageddon." As Aerosmith put it, the rhetoric against the so-called "ugly three" is "the same old story, same old song and dance, my friend."

The anti-Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 camp recently released a TV ad claiming that these measures "will trigger a second recession," "Seventy-three thousand jobs gone. Eight thousand teachers lost," "Huge class sizes that hit schools the hardest," and "No bonding for roads, schools or water projects."

The Colorado Springs City Council recently passed a resolution calling the three measures, "evil," "dangerous" and the work of anarchists. The political class, unions, and corporate welfare schemers made these same statements about TABOR and guess what? They were all completely wrong.
During the 1992 TABOR campaign, then-Governor Roy Romer predicted that TABOR would result in "economic Armageddon," and warned of signs posted on the state line saying, "Colorado is closed for business."

Wrong.

By 2006, Colorado ranked 8th on the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index. Between 1995 and 2000 Colorado was first among states in gross state product growth and according to the National Association of State Budget Officers, Colorado was one of only five states that did not run a deficit during the 2002 fiscal year.

An anti-TABOR brochure said the measure "limits school spending growth to the rate of inflation and growth in student population. Experts fear this will make it difficult for schools to keep up and create further impetus for cuts."

Wrong.

From 1988-89 to 2002-03, total per pupil spending grew by more than 17 percent. After adjusting for inflation, Colorado only had total per-pupil spending decreases in 1993, 1994, and 2000. However, the increases that occurred during other years more than made up for the three decreases.
The bond rating firm Moody's chimed in on TABOR predicting that Colorado would see a "long-term deterioration" of its credit rating. Then as now, opponents warned about threats to bonding for roads, schools, and water projects.