Monday, October 3

Op-Ed Against Referendum C & D: Vote No, It’s Your Dough

Here is an op-ed from Jon Caldara. Consider this is my official opposition statement on Colorado's C & D. It's really basic economics, and should be rather easy to understand for anyone willing to step away from left-wing ideologies and political agendas, and seek what is best for the economy overall.

Caldera makes a very good, fact-based, common sense argument as to why there is no reason why the State should be seeking more money, and why C & D really amounts to nothing more than a tax increase.
C stands for Cash. D stands for Debt. It is as straightforward as that.

Ref. C is a massive tax increase, plain and simple. If passed it would cost a family of four over $3200 in the first five years alone. But that’s just the beginning. Since it ratchets up the state’s spending and taxing baseline permanently, it is a forever tax increase.

And Ref. D would put the state further into debt, committing our children to repay the billions of dollars spent by politicians today. D lets them charge up our kids’ credit cards.

Ref. C takes not just some, but all, of your excess tax refunds for the next five years. C means, “No Refunds for You.” With gas prices so high and the cost of living on the rise, Colorado families need the relief their tax refunds bring. Bureaucrats shouldn’t steal those refunds.

Where will all this tax money go? We really won’t know. The tax spenders peddling this hike make it sound as though every penny is guaranteed to go to the programs you care about in your neighborhood. But read the actual language of the tax increase. You’ll find that your money goes into the state’s general fund. The politicians will be able to spend your money any way they want.

This is worth repeating. None of this tax increase is guaranteed to go where its promoters claim it will. Unlike a constitutional amendment, the empty promises of Ref C and D can be changed with a simple vote of the politicians.

Don’t give the politicians a blank check.

If Ref C is such a great idea, it is worth asking what would have happened if it were passed say, five or so years ago? You might remember the late “go-go” 90’s. Colorado’s economy, along with the nation’s, was on fire. Tax revenue was rolling into the state coffers, far more than what government needed to keep up with population growth and inflation. Fortunately our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights required that excess money be returned to the taxpayers.

In all, about $3.25 billion was refunded to taxpayers before the recent recession. That’s around $3200 per family of four. And as it turns out, that saved our state budget. Many other states, like California, just kept all the excess revenue and put it into new programs. And as Ronald Reagan once said, “There is nothing closer to immorality than a government program.”

When the recession then hit, those states with bloated budgets were in big trouble. California found itself with a $35 billion deficit. And because of that, they a recalled governor.

Thanks to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, Colorado was spared that trauma. TABOR kept the state’s budget from ballooning. It is no wonder why dozens of other states now want to emulate our TABOR. Referendum C would eliminate this safety net that saved Colorado’s fiscal fanny.

Now the backers of C want what happened in California to happen here. They want the state’s budget to grow, unchecked.

You may have read in the papers this week that economists predict another recession is just a couple of years away. If true, the last thing we want to do is gorge the state with a tax and debt increase.

The tax spenders try with a straight face to say that C isn’t a tax increase. But that doesn’t pass the giggle test. If it is not a tax increase, why do we have to vote on it?

They like to say that C merely “allows government to spend the money it already collected.” That’s like the store clerk saying “can I keep the money I have already collected,” after you handed him a $20 bill for a $15 purchase. If the clerk doesn’t give you the change for your purchase, the price of your purchase goes up. If the politicians don’t give you back your tax refunds, your taxes have gone up.

The tax spenders also like to claim there have been massive cuts in state government. What cuts? This year’s state budget has reached an all-time high of $15 billion with increases in every line item. The state had enough money to give ALL state employees across-the-board pay raises. Hardly something that could be done if the state were really in “crisis.”

Even during the recent recession, Colorado’s budget grew! And when C and D fail this fall the state budget is still slated to increase.

To you and me a budget cut means we actually get less money than we did last year. To a bureaucrat a budget cut means he didn’t get as large of an increase as he wanted.

Ref. C does nothing to address the reason why some state programs were recently squeezed from the part of the budget called the General Fund – Amendment 23. Amendment 23 is a mandate for increased spending in k-12 education every year, no matter what’s happening to the rest of the budget. And while Higher Ed got squeezed in the last few years, K-12 funding went up.

Isn’t it amazing that the ads for this tax increase try to pull on your heartstrings by showing pictures of teachers and school kids terrified of budget cuts. But by the state constitution (Amendment 23) there can’t be ANY cuts to education spending, only guaranteed increases.

Some people will do anything to pass a tax increase, including trying to scare you.

In order to support this forever tax increase, not only must you believe that Colorado will never again see another economic downturn, but you have to believe that the state is running as a lean, mean governing machine, with no waste or efficiency to be found.

In a year where CU professor Ward Churchill got a merit pay raise, that’s a little hard to swallow.

The state has some serious opportunities to save cash; including securitizing the billion dollars we are owed by the tobacco settlement, selling off any of the state’s 120 vacant and unused properties or the $330 million in receivables.

Are we in a budget “crisis?” Let’s do this Jeff Foxworthy style. You know you’re not in a budget crisis when the Department of Transportation spends $600 on oil changes.

You know you’re not in a budget crisis when the state spend $5000 on a piece of artwork entitles “12 Dildos on Hooks.” And yep, and that’s what it was all right.

You know you’re not in a budget crisis when the state bought Viagra for registered sex offenders. And they did.

You know you’re not in a budget crisis when CU spends over a half million dollars buying liquor.

You know you’re not in a budget crisis when private corporations get millions in direct corporate welfare. The Department for Economic Development gave $97,000 to Red Robin Hamburgers, $450,000 Echostar, $144,000 to Kodak, and the list goes on and on.

The state is hardly starving. Voters should reject this sky-is-falling plea from tax hungry politicians and rich special interests.

They don’t deserve a blank check. Do what’s right for your children and your family. Vote No, it’s your dough.

By Jon Caldara
Tags: , Education, Politics, News, Economy, Finances, TABOR, Economics, Policy,