The Colorado Republican Party on Tuesday launched a digital ad campaign in opposition to Proposition CC, a statewide ballot measure to let the state spend tax revenue on education and transportation that would otherwise be refunded under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
The 15-second video, set to appear through the Nov. 5 election on Facebook, YouTube and other digital platforms, calls the bipartisan measure "a blank check signed by Colorado taxpayers to expand government" and urges voters to "fight back against the government money grab."
A spokesman for the state GOP wouldn't say how much the party is spending on the campaign but called the ad buy "significant." According to Facebook, the Colorado GOP spent $1,403 on five versions of the ads — each with different text introducing the video — over the past week.
The ballot question asks voters to allow the state to spend funds that exceed a spending cap set by a formula contained in TABOR, a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1992. Proponents argue the state should be able to spend money it collects when the economy is booming.
Next year's projected TABOR refunds amount to about $38 per taxpayer, the measure's supporters say.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the chairman of the Colorado GOP, told Colorado Politics that the ballot measure would "gut" TABOR, though proponents point out that the vast majority of Colorado's cities, counties and school districts have adopted similar measures over the years.
"Colorado voters have said no to tax increases over and over again, but apparently politicians in Denver still haven't received the message. Proposition CC is a blank check for government overreach and waste that would effectively raise taxes and gut the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights. Republicans will continue to stand with voters across the spectrum to protect our Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and oppose this government money-grab," Buck said.
Some of the Colorado GOP's Facebook ads describe the effects of the measure in a way its backers say is misleading, by fudging the distinction between the occasional TABOR refunds distributed to every taxpayer and the income tax refunds some Coloradans are used to receiving whenever they've had too much withheld.
"Our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights guarantees Coloradans a tax refund, but Prop CC would allow the legislature to take and spend those funds," says one of the GOP's ads.
The CC Yes! campaign rebuts that characterization.
"TABOR rebates/refunds are entirely different from the refunds you get when you file your annual tax return. With the latter, whatever you’ve paid in excess state and federal taxes are returned to you. Proposition CC does not and will not change that," the measure's proponents say on a campaign site.
The Colorado GOP makes the same claim on the state party's web site.
"Democrats in the State Legislature think they will be able to pass a ballot proposition in an off-year election that will take away your tax refunds — indefinitely," the GOP says.
Support for the legislation that sent the question to the ballot fell mostly along party lines, but state Sen. Kevin Priola, a Henderson Republican who sometimes breaks rank from his caucus, co-sponsored the measure.
The airwaves and digital channels are already crowded with ads on both sides of the question — a group opposed to Proposition CC says it's spending at least $200,000 to put its message in front of voters, and a committee supporting the measure last week launched a "six-figure" TV ad campaign.