A group made up of some of the Colorado Republican Party's biggest names has formed to fight Proposition CC on the November ballot. The measure would allow the state to keep future refunds allowed by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights to go for schools and transportation.
The group, called No on CC, includes former Gov. Bill Owens, former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck and Colorado House Republican leader Patrick Neville.
The leadership is strong and well-known in GOP circles, as well. The co-chairs are University of Colorado Regent At-Large Heidi Ganahl, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, and former state treasurers Walker Stapleton and Mark Hillman.
Tampering with TABOR is expected to be a partisan brawl, since Republicans contend it keeps taxes and the size of government in check. They point to Colorado's booming economy as proof balancing taxes and government works.
Democrats say TABOR's constraints make it hard for the state to invest in long-range needs brought on by growth.
In years that the state meets the constitutional spending cap, taxpayers get a refund of excess revenue either on the tax return or lower fees for government services. Those refunds only happen in prosperous years, however.
The Colorado General Assembly referred the question to the ballot at the end of the last legislative session, proposing to the divide the revenue — it would have been about $65 million this year — equally between K-12 schools, higher education and transportation.
Republicans, who largely opposed the bill, said there are no guarantees about how the money would be spent, while wrecking the intent of TABOR, which statewide voters passed in 1992.
"As someone who cares deeply about the future of higher education in Colorado, I know Proposition CC will do nothing to lower tuition or provide long-term support for our public universities," Ganahl said in a statement Wednesday.
"While proponents will promise voters that it will solve our higher education funding issues, there are no guarantees in the measure. It simply creates a slush fund that future politicians in the legislature can spend however they like — and in return, voters are expected to permanently give away their refunds."
Owens, who urged voters to pass a TABOR timeout for schools and infrastructure in 2005, said there's a big difference between the two TABOR measures.
“I understand the difference between short-term adjustments during funding crises and permanent blank checks that the state government too often wishes it could write itself,” Owens stated. “Proposition CC is the latter, and for the sake of future generations of Colorado taxpayers, I urge voters to reject it in November.”
The campaign also released a full list of its advisory board members:
- Former Gov. Bill Owens
- Former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown
- U.S. Rep. Ken Buck
- Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville
- Former Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty
- Colorado State Sen. John Cooke
- Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese
- Ready Colorado executive director Luke Ragland
- Springs Taxpayers executive director Laura Carno
- Radio Host Jeff Crank
- Businessman Doug Robinson
- Businessman Grant Whiteside