Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.
These words from Sir Walter Scott’s 1808 poem, “Marmion,” appropriately describe Proposition CC, the Colorado November ballot question that would take away hardworking Coloradans tax refunds, FOREVER. From the opening three words, “Without raising taxes,” we are being deceived by the writers and proponents of this proposition. When taxpayer money is not refunded as outlined in the Constitutional Amendment, TABOR, The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the state is keeping more of our tax dollars, and therefore those tax dollars shall be defined as a tax increase. This statewide measure is asking voters to permanently give up tax refunds that are owed to us under The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. I am quite certain that if the federal government decided to keep all tax refunds for all of eternity there would be absolute chaos as we, the taxpayers, would refuse to believe that it is not a tax increase.
The deceit continues with the phrase “to better fund public schools, higher education, and roads, bridges, and transit.” There is no commitment to dedicating the “taxpayer refunds” to public schools, higher education, roads, bridges, and transit. There is no “shall” or “must” in this proposition. Instead, it is very open ended and does not allow the voters and taxpayers to know how the money will actually be spent, nor the percentages for each category.
Keep in mind that House Speaker K.C. Becker, one of the sponsors of the bill that produced Proposition CC, back in April during her discourse with Representative Susan Beckman in a House Finance Committee hearing, said, “As you know, Representative Beckman, one legislature can’t bind future legislators, so I don’t know what’s going to happen forevermore. And any change that is statutory, whether voters approve it or not, can always be changed by the legislature because the legislature always has the authority to change statutes.” These words from the Speaker of the House clearly states that there are no guarantees as to where the additional funds will go.
The deceitful proposition continues, “may the state keep and spend all the revenue it annually collects,” thus giving the state a blank check to spend as they wish without limitations. Many of us do not spend every dollar that we earn, emphasis on earn. Why does the state need to spend every dollar they receive above the generous cap of a formula of population plus inflation, now guided by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights? The state budget has grown approximately $1.9 billion this year, alone. It’s never wise to give the state government a blank check!
Remember Referendum C that was in effect 2005-2010? The proponents told Colorado voters that the money would be spent on education, health care and transportation. And what was the net result? Transportation funding was the biggest loser in Referendum C and will be again in Proposition CC. The crucial language in Referendum C allowed the legislature discretion on how to spend 99% of the funds. The Legislative Council Staff wrote last October in a report, “It is impossible to identify the amount of additional funding made available by Referendum C to individual programs because doing so would require knowledge of the budgetary actions that the state would have taken had Referendum C not passed.”
Proponents of Proposition CC opine that Prop CC will be accountable and transparent with our money. The proposition concludes stating that there will be “an annual independent audit to show how the retained revenues are spent.” Since transportation is cited as one of the departments to get additional funding if Proposition CC is passed let’s look at some facts. It was reported by Colorado Public Radio mid -June that a state audit for the CDOT fiscal year 2017 discovered: (1) that CDOT left out legally required information which hindered transparency for the auditors and as a result auditors were challenged with determining and reporting how all the money was spent; and (2) the auditors state that CDOT is not utilizing their available funding due to not closing projects on a timely basis. And now we, the Colorado taxpayers, are expected to willingly relinquish our hard-earned money for non-transparency and non-accountability?
We, the taxpayers of Colorado, will not be deceived by the proponents of Proposition CC nor the current movement to repeal in full the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. We the people clearly understand the deception in Proposition CC, a one sentence question on Colorado’s November ballot. We refuse to be fooled. The web has been woven. We, the taxpayers, must take our pens in hand and destroy this tangled web of deception, Proposition CC.