Referendum C is wrong for Colorado. Spending is the problem, and Referendum C doesn't fix the problem. Instead, it allows spending to continue to grow out of control.
That is why it was rejected by most Republican legislators in both the House and the Senate. On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats gave Referendum C 100 percent of their support.
This is a fundamental choice between accelerating the growth of Denver's control over our lives or following the time-honored principles of limited government.
Referendum C removes all Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) refunds for five years. That means nearly $4 billion (that's nine zeroes for anyone counting) in increased government spending. Moreover, it also establishes a permanent increase for all subsequent years.
When the governor first talked of changing TABOR, it was within the context of a compromise between Amendment 23 and TABOR. And while a dollar for dollar compromise between the revenue limits of TABOR and the budget busting demands of Amendment 23 would be a compromise, Referendum C is an outright affront to that spirit.
If you think supporting the referendum will fix transportation, think again. Only a small fraction of Referendum C dollars will go to transportation projects, and none of those few dollars will find their way to Larimer County.
Has the recent recession really crippled our ability to function and given us no other option? Do we have a budget crisis that can only be cured with more of the peoples' money? I don't believe we do.
When the legislative session began last January, we were told that we were facing $340 million in budget cuts. Yet, as the session continued, accounting adjustments wiped away more than $200 million of that predicted shortfall, and true to our spending habits, we ended up with a big increase in spending.
This past session we spent more than $50 million beyond what Amendment 23 required for K-12 education and Amendment 23 requires that new, higher base to now be matched and grow in future years as well.
Since 1984, the overall state budget has more than quadrupled, growing from $3.6 billion to $15.2 billion. For this fiscal year alone, the state budget is up 7 percent!
This is not the picture of a starving state government.
Even under the current limits of TABOR, Colorado state government continues to grow at a considerable clip. After three years in the legislature I am convinced that the real solutions will only be found if we control spending.
Referendum C will hike our state budget up to levels that threaten our state's economic health and vitality, and certainly squeeze the budgets of Colorado's families. The cost of Referendum C, in the first five years alone, averages out to well over $3,000 per family.
This substantial amount of money can strengthen our economy, but only if it is left in the hands of the taxpayer. The private sector is where we find the true economic engine that produces jobs, sustains families and has made Colorado a truly wonderful place to raise a family or retire in.
To call Referendum C an economic recovery act is to turn sound economic principles upside down. Referendum C is a "let's continue to prop up out-of-control government spending with more of the people's money" act.
The vote this fall will be a pivotal decision for the citizens of Colorado.
If C passes, it will take the heart out of TABOR. Tax and spend politics will rule and big, intrusive government will be the result. To be certain, Referendum C is a $4 billion tax and spend measure.
If C is defeated – which I believe it will and must be – Coloradans will have given the legislature a strong message that we must live within our means, restrain the growth of government and refocus on the essential priorities of state government.
I believe the people will make the right choice, and I am ready to tackle the job of finding the best solutions for the people of Colorado in the next legislative session.