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As the Nov. 5 Colorado General Election day approaches, Ark Valley Voice endorses the state-wide ballot Proposition CC.

Passage of Proposition CC will allow the state government to keep all the money it collects from existing sources and invest it in education and transportation needs, rather than returning it to the taxpayers. The measure would require that tax money, over and above existing revenue limits, be spent on public schools, higher education, roads, bridges and transit.

Colorado State Capital. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

That Proposition CC is even being considered now is a result of a bill passed in 1992, which changed the Colorado Constitution. Called “The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” (commonly referred to as TABOR ), it limits the amount of revenue Colorado can collect and spend, or save, each year. While the amendment limits the amount of money (adjusted yearly to account for inflation, state population growth, and voter-approved changes to the limit), it requires that anything collected above the state revenue limit must be refunded to taxpayers.

The effect of TABOR has been that Colorado, during the good years, has not been able to invest in critical categories important to the state’s long-term economic future, such as infrastructure or education. Nor can it accrue long-term reserves for investments that voters deem essential to the state’s future. It has been forced to return to taxpayers taxes already collected over and above those limits, in often paltry amounts that require a lot of state funds to process and mail. Merely allowing the state to keep the $20 and $30 individual TABOR refunds, say, supporters can provide as much as $1.7 billion over three years for education and transportation.

Proposition CC promises to be a responsible use of our tax dollars, with an annual audit required to assure that funds are directed to the proposition’s stated investment areas. This means more money for critical investments in Colorado’s future — children and infrastructure — without raising tax rates.

Colorado has to focus on those areas. While the state ranks in the top third of states in household income, it ranks in the bottom third in per-pupil public spending on both K-12 and higher education. Families look at this when deciding where to raise their families.

Colorado is a state where the tourism industry is not only a significant economic driver; overall, it is especially critical to scenic mountain counties. With the state’s roads and bridges deteriorating, the time to invest in improvements is when the state has already collected the money.

After nearly three decades of controversy over Colorado’s unique limits on government spending, limited-government advocates remain against it. While the vote is going to come down to the wire, in August, a state-wide poll by Magellan Strategies shows that 54 percent of voters favor the proposition, as does Ark Valley Voice.