Guest Post: Why TABOR means we can have nice things

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Taxpayer Bill of Rights. TABOR. A legislative victory for the libertarian state of Colorado. But perhaps one of the most hated bills by progressives throughout the country.

A doctrine as simple as it is powerful: Taxation will be decided by the people. The idea that if the government wants to raise taxes it needs the consent of the governed. If the government wishes to spend more on congressional salaries, it needs to find it in the budget or it needs to increase taxes, but with consent by the people. If the state decides it needs more funding for the school system, the voters will decide to appropriate said funds.

This doctrine, which has been amended to the state constitution of Colorado, has found itself at the forefront of attacks by progressives. I found myself discussing TABOR with my English teacher (which should have been my first red flag), grinding my teeth through her explanation of TABOR, aided by the presentation of a nine-minute clip from the Full Frontal with Samantha Bee show. My teacher stated she was just trying to be informative. Of course! She left me with this: “TABOR is why we can’t have nice things.”

This left me wondering why progressives hate this doctrine. As my teacher and Samantha Bee explained, TABOR is bad because no taxpayer will ever choose to raise their own taxes. But the thing is they do. Not all the time. Not even half of the time. But they choose to raise taxes when they see the need to. But if giving voters a choice in what they will and will not pay for is the objection, then progressives have a bit of a problem down the line: They have to persuade voters that voters should take away liberties from voters.

Progressives see liberties such as this as an obstacle to overspending taxpayer money. They see the government as integral to economic progress.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado enjoys a 3 percent unemployment rate, which is almost a full percentage point lower than the national average. Further, Business Insider ranked Colorado the fifth-best economy in terms of growth, unemployment, wages, and real estate. Colorado is attractive to many different businesses and draws large amounts of investment. Wages are high and the real estate market booming. But progressives are an existential threat to the progress we see in Colorado today. They wish to enact broad, far-reaching and expensive policies that will hurt the economy and the average citizen. Gov. Jared Polis has plans that may greatly limit the natural gas industry and wants to enact broad health care initiatives similar to the legislation now seen along the West Coast from Los Angeles to Seattle.  

In 2019, the Democrat-controlled state legislature will work on passing public health care for Coloradans. They may be successful in striking blows to the economy by regulating to death natural gas and fracking, but will fail to find the money for their social policies. Working within the budget will be all they can do. TABOR will protect the citizen from the government in a time when far-left radicals control the government. The progressives who so dearly cling to spending will learn what it means to have a finite resource, and will accordingly be forced to face the reality of not having enough capital to fund bad policies.

Coloradans of the past saw fit to enshrine a most basic liberty for Coloradans in the future. Without TABOR we would be facing the possibility of turning into San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Seattle. The progressive agenda has failed those cities and run them into the ground. Colorado and Denver specifically will be safeguarded for the time being.

The Colorado Independent occasionally runs guest posts from government officials, local experts and concerned citizens on a variety of topics. These posts are meant to provide diverse perspectives and do not represent the views of The Independent. To pitch a guest post, please contact or visit our submission page


  1. There’s nothing quite like the well-considered and not at all privilege-blinded opinions of a redpilled Cherry Creek high school student.

  2. I would suggest to the undergraduate writer of this opinion piece to actually investigate the law. Start with the Colorado Public Radio podcast called “The Tax Man.” And perhaps talk to some people most affected by this onerous law, particularly those in education.

  3. ok then…Murtha is wrong…He is sounding very much like a moron loving republican…California has been quite successful on most of the progressive/liberal policies of the Democratic party…so, Murtha, keep an open mind, and you will see that you are wrong…

  4. I find it humorous when people demonize Californias politics. It’s the sixth largest economy in the WORLD last I checked. Is distancing yourself from identifying something that works, really worth maintaining your political purity?

  5. I have come to rely on the Colorado Independent for fact-based, well written articles. I always learn something and get more perspective on current issues affecting our state. While I think the idea of having guest posts is a good one, I had presumed that guest posts would go through the same rigorous review as other articles. So I was surprised to read this guest post and find that it is not the case.

    I know quite a bit about Tabor and the arguments regarding how it has hindered our state, but I thought it would be good to understand the other side’s perspective as to why many people in our state still support it. I assumed that I would get a well-informed argument for why Tabor has helped Colorado. Instead, I felt like I got a regurgitated spew of certain political talking points with no actual facts or rational argument behind it.

    If the Independent is interested in providing a variety of viewpoints, I think that is a worthy goal. Just please select people who are well qualified to speak on these topics and can write an article that includes facts and lay out a clear case for their perspective. Also, if you know of someone who can actually do those things and is pro Tabor, I would still be interested in reading such an article.

  6. What a total load of BS. Good job, right wing, you’ve POLLUTED another young mind and turned them into a mouth breathing MORON just like yourselves. It’s just too bad that your position is nonsense, and is proven constantly to be nothing but a gift to the 1%. The less they have to pay to keep up the infrastructure THEY use more than the rest of us, the more they like it. And the most it costs the rest of us.

    The CHILD who wrote this needs to be educated FAR better than they clearly have. We could be FAR better off if the IDIOTS in this state hadn’t gotten hold of the purse strings and decided that they just don’t want to pay to be part of a SOCIETY, here. Why do those on the left hate this law? Because it keeps even BASIC needs of the state from being met, and all so the rich can have more money in their bank accounts that they will NEVER be able to spend. And so you have schools with grossly inadequate buildings because “schools should just have to do more with less”, like that makes sense ANYWHERE. But get real, schools are one place people WILL NOT spend anymore money without being forced to, and that is DISGUSTING. I have no children, never will, but I vote for education increases EVERY TIME. Seems that those WITH children don’t, though, because they damn near NEVER pass. And so we have MORONS like the writer of this article who know NOTHING and pontificate on it. PROVING that our educational system is woefully inadequate, but do we FIX it? Nope, CAN’T. TABOR makes sure we won’t and can’t.

    Like driving around on the roads here? Then you must love car repairs. We have taxes on gas that were SUPPOSED to go to fixing them, but for some reason, they are ALWAYS pot holed and in drastic need of repair. Can’t do it, thought, TABOR stops any more money from going to that need.

    Your teachers are your teachers for a reason, kid. Because they are SMARTER THAN YOU ARE. Maybe you should try listening to them and LEARNING something instead of thinking you’re so mush smarter than they are. THEY have lived in this state, paying for things and seeing what has to be fixed. You’ve been driven around by Mommy and haven’t learned a blasted THING. Open your eyes and see what is going on around you and stop looking at everything like a selfish child. We have MORE than enough republicans already to do that. We don’t need more short sighted, closed minded, selfish morons who can’t think their way out of a wet paper bag with a cannon. We need people who will be the SOLUTION, NOT the damn problem.

    I suggest that you GROW UP a little bit before you write another piece of crap like this for public consumption.If THIS is what you think the state needs, then I suggest you keep your face shut until you learn better. Especially about WHO it was who pushed this IDIOCY. Slum lords don’t need to be rewarded for their greed and selfishness, and that is EXACTLY who pushed this thing and got rewarded for it. This state USED to do better for itself. This MONSTROSITY needs to be repealed and sent to legislative hell like it deserves. It’s one of the DUMBEST things this state has ever done to itself. And to think that this makes CO a better place to live just proves how POORLY our schools are doing for our young people.

  7. This was a giant waste of my time. The Colorado Independent is more than welcome to bring controversial opinions to be discussed, but only when they are well-informed, mature views that add value. Instead, you’ve given a small PR win to a young Rush-Limbaugh-in-Training who’s budding ego can now say to his college peer group, he’s “been published in The Colorado Independent”; his voice is “important”, his arguments have “credibility”; he “should be taken seriously”. Seriously. I gave you money — don’t you dare waste it on this uninformed crap.

  8. Fallacy:
    Ad hominem (Latin for “to the person”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a fallacious argumentative strategy whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argumen.

    Cognitive bias:
    Halo Effect – The halo effect can be explained as the behavior of using evaluations based on things unrelated, to make judgments about something or someone (including their opinions).

    It’s good for people to have opinions, and use those opinions to engage in productive dialog.

    You should really learn better communication techniques.
    You should learn how to better form logical, meaningful, reasonable critiques.

    At least this “edpilled Cherry Creek high school student” can form more cohesive sentences, and a better formed and framed opinion as opposed to merely emotional-driven rants.

    Have you ever considered anger management for your apparent issues?

  9. “particularly those in education”

    So, how much is enough?

    Administrators in education are doing quite well (read the other article here on the Independent titled: “Denver has 1 administrator for every 7.5 instructional staff — far above the state average” – “The more money a district spends on administrators, who tend to earn higher salaries, the less money it has to pay teachers.”).

    From 2011-2018. The number of students has increased six percent and the number of teachers has gone up eight percent, but the number of administrators has shot up by over 35 percent.

    While administrators saw an average $4,000 increase in salary, he says, teachers’ pay decreased by $300.

    Thus perhaps your angst is directed the wrong way.
    Rather than push for more taxes, which will likely be wasted on over-paid pencil-pushers, why not push for greater accountability, common sense, and equality?

    Truth is, for many Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Educators, even too much isn’t enough.
    Each can spend as quickly as they receive.

    I have worked in the private sector, and in the public sector, and the public sector is largely infected with feelings/attitudes of privilege and entitlements.
    I left the public sector because I couldn’t stand seeing publicly-paid employees whom not only tried as hard as possible to avoid doing their jobs, but continually griped about having to do them.

    Let me ask you? How many Legislative Budget Committee meetings have you attended?
    Do you know how many people have their hands out?

    But take a look even at what Amendment 64 created:
    For pot taxes: “…the first $40 million or 90 percent, whichever is greater, goes to the BEST capital construction grant program

    Guess what? BEST is overseen by a Board LARGELY composed of former construction industry folks, of folks with ties to the surveying, construction, engineering, etc. industries.
    Education spending in Colorado is seen as “gravy” for those selling services related to construction spending.
    More money has generally amounted to less oversight & scrutiny.

    I’m no opponent to education, in fact I’d rather see more money going to QUALITY education rather than permanent wars (via militaries, intelligence, security, etc).

    However, quality is the key term here. Our “education” system is a complete joke.
    Teachers are primarily just trained to institute and administer cognitive constraints.

    Plato and Aristotle, two proponents and founders of QUALITY education, would be revolted in disgust at what passes for education today.
    Their beliefs that each individual should develop his or her ability to the fullest of their extent is nonexistent.

    Most every Teacher I know is merely a systematic shill. They thrive on promulgating, instilling & enforcing mundane tasks & stark convention.
    Few know how to explore beyond the bounds of procedural policies.

    Bertrand Russell wrote “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric”.
    Yet most every Teacher I know spurns at the thought or presentation of eccentric or divergent thought.

    Most of the greatest inventions and ideas were those formerly rebuffed as unworkable or crazy.

    Interestingly, I used to work in the State Legislature, and most every time we received mass mailings/emails from Teachers on some issue, they were most always canned, pre-printed, standardized talking point created & distributed by the CEA or NEA.
    Few to none of the Teachers would ever form an intelligent, independent, well-developed thought on the matter.

    Mundanity shouldn’t be rewarded.

    Unhappy with your current pay?
    There are other jobs, other opportunities.
    Keep in mind, there are a LOT of jobs that still pay less, even with equivalent education. Try looking into EMT or Journalism/Reporting.

  10. Wow, reading the comments here it’s more than a little worrisome that people are so opposed to voter approval on spending initiatives.

    That being said, I think the Author here needs to reexamine some facts:
    “Libertarian” Colorado?
    How in the world can Colorado be considered “Libertarian”? Do you even understand the concept of “Libertarianism”?

    In regards to taxation:
    • Colorado ranks between 26th to 43rd on property taxation.
    • Colorado ranks between 18th -35th on personal taxation burden.
    Those aren’t very good rankings when trying to judge a state’s position on “Libertarianism”.

    Even legalized weed doesn’t make Colorado a “Libertarian” minded state. The main goal of legalized weed has been to increase tax revenue, which runs counter to “Libertarian” objectives.

    “I found myself discussing TABOR with my English teacher”
    That doesn’t dismiss her on the subject of legislation based on a seeming unrelated occupation.

    “Progressives see liberties such as this as an obstacle to overspending taxpayer money. They see the government as integral to economic progress.”
    • What’s your source for this assesment? Ever heard of citing evidence?
    • Do you have an understanding of how the economy works?
    The economy only works when capital continues moving. Fractional reserve banking (on which our economy is highly reliant) depends on people spending.
    The economy is driven by over 70 percent by consumer spending.
    Yes, the government does function to ensure spending, it’s necessary in keeping our economy, under it’s current constructs, alive.

    “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado enjoys a 3 percent unemployment rate”
    • Are you just relying on BLS summaries?
    Have you ever bothered to look at the UNDERLYING data sets from which these summaries are derived?

    The TRUE unemployment rate is much, much higher.
    For starters, so-called “discouraged workers” are simply being omitted from BLS stats. These are people out of work for over a year. This number is STILL at it’s HIGHEST LEVELS in U.S. history.
    That term “discouraged workers” is truly a meaningless label. It’s simply a way of moving TENS of MILLIONS of people from “Column A” to “Column B” and exclude them from official stats.

    The TRUE unemployment rate is STILL above 21 percent.

    Plus, have you ever bothered to examine what definitoin the BLS uses to determine “employed” status?
    A person simply has to work only ONE HOUR in the prior week to be considered employed.

    If the unemployment rate were truly so low, why would Colorado have committed hundreds of millions in incentives towards enticing companies like Amazon, VF Corp, Alphabet, and others?
    The bidding frenzied bidding process alone demonstrates the true ONGOING disaster that is the U.S. economy, including Colorado.

    “Wages are high and the real estate market booming.”
    • Per Forbes, Colorado Springs and Denver are two of the top-20 cities for rising cost-of-living.
    • Each would need income increases of between 24-36 percent to maintain reasonable cost-of-living.

    “They may be successful in striking blows to the economy by regulating to death natural gas and fracking”
    • Over-regulation – a common “Libertarian” war cry.
    So, if regulation is such an economic and business killer, why are two of the fastest growing industries, medical services and marijuana, also two of the MOST regulated industries?

    Interestingly, the Koch brothers, two staunch proponents of “Libertarianism”, are heavily invested in several companies that are among the largest spenders on lobbying activities.
    They’ve recently increased their holdings in companies like Qualcomm and Cisco, each of whom are lobbying heavily for special-interest legislation (such as V2X) to increase corporate profits.
    How “Libertarian” is that?
    Their very earnings from shares held rely on government regulation.

    “The progressives who so dearly cling to spending will learn what it means to have a finite resource”
    • Ever taken a glance at the WTID wealth inequality index?
    It’s at its highest level EVER, in U.S. history.
    Yes, capital is a limited resource. And the ultra-wealthy are currently hoarding it, at unprecedented levels. THAT parctice is one of the biggest reasons for current economic woes (see statement above about the necessity for continued movement of capital).

    We have problems now with under-funded projects, because tax revenue is down (since unemployment is still WAY up), and capital is being hoarded by the .01 percent (even more so with recent tax breaks).

    Take a look at the late 1920’s. The ultra-wealthy then argued for large tax breaks for the higher incomes and their corporations. This happened in 1927 & again in 1928. The Great Depression occurred in late 1929.
    Hoarding of capital simply doesn’t work.

    Read works by economic historians such as Plutarch, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and others. Wealth ALWAYS concentrates into the hands of the few (following similar patterns of the Pareto Principle).

    “TABOR will protect the citizen from the government in a time when far-left radicals control the government.”
    Take a look at stats:
    THREE of the top four U.S. presidents with the highest budget deficits have been Republicans, not “far-left radicals”.

    It’s interesting you quote Business Insider in regards to your point it “ranked Colorado the fifth-best economy in terms of growth, unemployment, wages, and real estate.”
    Yet you also bash San Frandisco, which Business Insider ranked AS THE BEST ECONOMY IS THE U.S.

    Even Seattle, another you baselessly criticize, has ranked above Colorado, at third best economy.

    You should take care in avoid the practice of using only those stats/facts that suite your biases, especially when combining those with unfounded accusations.
    Read about “Confirmation Bias”.

    I don’t have the time (nor inclination) to correct ALL your other mistakes here.

    If you plan to pursue a serious/honest career in Political Science or Communications, I suggest you learn to do A LOT better research, including learing to reference evidence-based sources.
    Otherwise you just end up sounding like an extremist yourself.

    Try studying courses in Logic, Rhetoric & Argumentation.

  11. This was good until about halfway through, when the toxic tribalism that has gripped the Republican Party reared its ugly head and never left. I agree that TABOR is a democratic concept and that it’s one of the many things that makes CO great. I consider myself a progressive, though…good thing the author is young or such a non-black and white revelation may have given him a heart attack. Also, San Fran, Seattle, and LA run into the ground?? By what metric? Lmao. We can agree on one other thing though – the Sam Bee piece was crap.

  12. Nice reply. This is more suited for Fox News than the Imdependent…not because of the political leanings of the pov, but because of the total lack of trying to include citations of facts on which he bases his opinions. Kid is going to have a tough time in college if this is how he supports his points…

  13. Agreed 100%…I will keep an eye out to see if the rest of their opinion pieces are so poorly supported by facts. The more likely thing is that the other pieces just aren’t making such sweeping (and name-calling) assertions.

  14. If this is what students of today think, well, god help us all. He speaks in ‘me’ terms and doesn’t consider ‘we’.

    It’s a classic right-wing philosophy of greed and I’m disappointed that the Indie would even run something so one-sided and simplistic.

  15. Thanks for the lesson! Let me run some examples by you and see if I’ve got it:

    Ad Hominem: Suppose that, rather than having a genuine discussion about the difference between progressive and conservative fiscal policies, an author were to write “progressives are an existential threat to the progress we see in Colorado today” without any supporting evidence or even an explanation. This would be an ad hominem attack, wildly accusing progressives of being destructive rather than looking at the actual outcomes of their policies.

    The Halo Effect: A good example of this would be the following sentence: “The progressives who so dearly cling to spending will learn what it means to have a finite resource, and will accordingly be forced to face the reality of not having enough capital to fund bad policies.” The author is clearly making inferences and associations about progressives that the available evidence does not support. The idea that progressives do not know what it means to have a finite resource, for example, is clearly reverse-engineered from the author’s own preconceptions (and belied by the author’s complaints about progressive environmental policies, which come from a much clearer understanding of finite resources than anyone on the right seems likely to demonstrate).

    You have accurately pointed out that the inclusion of these sorts of fallacies in one’s writing do not contribute to a productive political dialog. If only you applied the same standards to this column as you did to the internet comment below it.

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