November 6, 2005

Colorado rejects TABOR and Nevada should reject TASC

So, when Bob Beers starts making noise about TASC (TABOR under a new name) and Sharron Angle pushes for a Nevada version of Proposition 13, remember Colorado. Do you really want underfunded schools? No libraries? No rural health programs? Police and fire departments operating on a shoestring? Roads that cannot handle the traffic of expanding communities?

TASC turns our budgets into mathematical formulas and does not allow our elected officials any flexibility in moving funds around so that growing areas of the budget (education, for instance) get adequate funding while areas that slip down the priority ladder don't get more than they need.

Can you imagine running your household budget that way? When you are done paying off your car, do you continue to make payments on it? As your children get older, doesn't the cost of their clothing, food, and school and after-school activities go up? Sure would be nice to take that money no longer needed for a car payment to help offset the cost of your children's expenses, wouldn't it? If your budget was restricted the way TASC seeks to restrict government funding, you wouldn't be allowed to.

From the November 3rd Editorial in the NY Times:

How Colorado Got Its Government Back

In 1992, to the unmitigated glee of antitax types everywhere, Colorado voters amended the State Constitution to impose the nation's strictest tax and spending limits. On Tuesday, they decided that government was worth paying for after all. By 52 percent to 48 percent, they voted to suspend the fiscal limits for the next five years and told the state to keep $3.7 billion that would have otherwise been refunded to taxpayers.

The vote clearly has to do with the pain of a permanently underfinanced government. Middle-class and low-income residents were getting burned by ever deepening spending cuts in education, health care and transportation.

Colorado has the ninth-highest per capita personal income in the nation, and only Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts have larger proportions of college graduates. Yet over the past decade or so, Colorado has dropped to near the bottom among the states in funds for basic public services. Last November, Republicans lost control of both chambers of the Legislature for the first time since 1960, and Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, then shocked his base by supporting the suspension of the budget restrictions.

Voters and legislators in nearly half the states are currently considering tax and spending limits, some of them quite severe, like Proposition 76 in California. Coloradans, who have the most experience with extreme budget constraints, have said "time out" and telegraphed their displeasure to elected officials. Taxpayers and politicians, including those in Washington, should take heed. This vote was a thumbs down on "starving the beast" - the Republican strategy of excessive tax cuts to force government to shrink.

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