A group trying to convince voters to hit the pause button on the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which limits government spending, has officially called it quits.
The effort would have been what Coloradans call a “de-Brucing,” named as such because the architect of TABOR is an anti-tax folk hero named Douglas Bruce. (Fun fact: He’s sitting in prison right now on charges that stem from a previous bust for tax evasion.)
Backed by a group called Colorado Priorities, the ballot measure would have asked voters in November if they wanted to grant the state government permission, for 10 years, to retain tax money that flowed over TABOR-mandated revenue caps. TABOR currently requires any revenue generated over projected limits to go back to individual taxpayers in the form of refunds.
If voters approved the measure, that money would instead have gone specifically toward transportation, education, mental health and senior services.
Colorado Priorities would have had to gather nearly 100,000 valid signatures in Colorado to get their proposal on the ballot. Petitioners were asking voters for their John Hancocks as recently as last week. The ballot measure grew out of an initiative called Building a Better Colorado, a bipartisan group of state leaders who held meetings around Colorado to determine what measures to try and put to voters this year.
But today, Colorado Priorities announced that it is canceling its efforts. The group didn’t think they could raise enough money to be successful in a presidential election year, especially with the possibility that around 10 other measures could also wind up on the ballot.
Carol Hedges, who runs the Colorado Fiscal Institute think tank and supported the measure, called today’s news disappointing.
“Revenue builds thriving communities, and we must all chip in — every one of us — if we want the building blocks that produce thriving communities,” she said in a statement. “The Colorado Priorities measure would have helped us keep building the kinds of communities our forebears envisioned.”
Limited-government conservatives, however, championed the announcement.
Michael Fields, the spokesman for Americans for Prosperity in Colorado, said he was surprised the TABOR timeout measure was pulled because the group had been working on it for two years. He said he doesn’t think Coloradans have an appetite for bigger government.
It’s likely the measure could come back next year on a less crowded ballot.
Photo credit: Garry Knight, Creative Commons, Flickr