GREENWOOD VILLAGE • Proposition CC has more to do with investing than taxing, even as it asks Colorado voters to give up future refunds that might be granted by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
The issue was debated Sept. 4 by Colorado House Speaker KC Becker, the Boulder Democrat who wrote the legislation to put the issue on the ballot, and Heidi Ganahl, a Republican who co-chairs the committee out to defeat the proposition.
“If we want to have a prosperous state, we have to make the investments in our people, in our roads and our state institutions," Becker told a crowd of business people at a Common Sense Policy Roundtable breakfast in Greenwood Village.
"We’re not doing ourselves any favors by not investing in those things.”
At stake is whether taxpayers will continue to get a refund when the economy is booming and the state exceeds a revenue cap set by TABOR, which state voters passed in 1992.
Becker said the change would cost each taxpayer about $38 in each of the next two years, but it would enable to state to invest $200 million each into K-12 schools, higher education and transportation.
Ganahl said she's skeptical whether future legislatures will take out money elsewhere in the budgets for education and transportation.
She said Colorado doesn’t have a revenue problem — with a budget of about $32 billion this year — but has a spending problem.
“This is more about prioritizing and making sure we’re spending on the right things with the existing money we have rather than taking money out of the pockets of taxpayers, because $38 is a lot of money for some families, especially in rural Colorado and some of our communities that are struggling," she said.
Ganahl, founder and former chief executive of the international franchise Camp Bow Wow, was elected statewide as a University of Colorado regent in 2016. GOP insiders expect her to run for governor or possibly the U.S. Senate when Democrat Michael Bennet's seat is up for re-election in 2022.
“As a business person, I look at the money in the bucket, how do we spend it, how do we invest it," Ganahl told the business crowd. "We’ve got to make sure we’re getting a good return on investment for the dollars we spend.”
Higher education would lose out if Proposition CC fails, she said, but that doesn't mean the solution is to bankrupt parents to pay for ever-increasing tuition or saddle college students with heavy debt.
“I think it goes back to providing value,” Ganahl said. “When you get a college degree, you have to make sure you get a job, and you’ve got to make sure you’re aligned with the workforce needs and putting students in the right seats aligned with their careers. It’s about investing in the right careers and making sure we’re not putting them in massive debt to do that.”
Neither the Board of Regents nor the Common Sense Policy Roundtable have taken an official position on Proposition CC.
Although it would allow government to keep future TABOR refunds, voters would retain the right under TABOR to vote on future tax issues.
This issue, however, is not a tax increase, Becker said.
“In your own business, if you don’t make investments, you’re shortening your own long-term business plan,” she told the Common Sense crowd. “It doesn’t make sense. We have to be investing in our people, our institutions and our roads. When our economy does well, we want our people to do well.
”Here’s a common-sense way to say: We’re not going to increase your tax rates; we’re not increasing sales taxes.”