Just as you have to manage your personal budget within the constraints of your income, the State of Colorado must do the same. In 1992, the voters of Colorado passed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) with the explicitly stated goal to “restrain most the growth in government”. This restraint was desperately needed as the Colorado economy during the 10 years prior to adoption was not giving Coloradans the opportunities they deserved, while the State took ever larger chunks of our citizens’ paychecks. During that time period, Colorado GDP grew 29.5% compared to 94.2% for the U.S. GDP. At the same time, population plus inflation growth in Colorado totaled 50.2% but the State tax charge to our citizens increased by a whopping 133.7%!
During the first 10 years after TABOR was passed, the Colorado economy outpaced the overall U.S. economic growth and the State tax intake increased at a rate justly slightly higher than the population plus inflation growth. Meanwhile the State legislature and the courts continued to disrespect the will of the people and slowly but steadily chipped away at the protections demanded by the citizens when they approved TABOR. Through the use of State “enterprises” and by calling new revenue “fees” as opposed to “taxes”, the next 10 years saw State revenues increase by 82.6% while population plus inflation grew by only 36.7% (the rate at which State revenues should have increased under TABOR) and the Colorado GDP grew 64% slower than the U.S. GDP. The bottom line is that we must reinstate fiscal responsibility at the state level so that the Colorado economy will provide the opportunities needed and deserved by our citizens in the future.
Think about it this way. You don’t get to walk in to your boss’s office at your work and demand that she/he give you more money simply because you have decided you want to spend more. The State government works for YOU. YOU are the boss. Don’t let the State demand that you give it more of YOUR money simply because the current elected officials want to spend more.
With $32 billion in total State spending, there is more than sufficient resources to provide the essential functions of government. In fact, the per capita state spending in Colorado is 9% above the national average. We can properly fund the education of our children. We can properly fund the healthcare needs of our citizens who must rely on the public safety net. We can fix our roads and bridges. We can address the PERA funding problems so that those dedicated public servants who have relied on PERA for their retirement can feel confident that it will be there when needed. And we can still do the select other things that improve the quality of life for all of our citizens. The key to accomplishing these tasks is to prioritize the public spending and eliminate those programs that are ineffective, outdated, or simply provide a very limited benefit to a small group of people. Every budget of every organization has 5%-10% of spending that meets these criteria and can be redirected to higher priority initiatives. That represents $1.6 – $3.2 billion for the State of Colorado. That is a lot of money. This is what I have accomplished throughout my career as a Chief Financial Officer of multiple companies. This is what I want to accomplish for you.
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