Who’s Who Of GOP Losers Oppose Statewide “De-Brucing”

Walker Stapleton is back.

As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reportsProposition CC, this fall’s referred measure to allow the state to retain revenues in excess of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights’ (TABOR) prescribed growth limits, has an opposition committee stocked with big-name Republicans past and present:

The group [Former Gov. Bill] Owens joined as an advisory board member is called the No on CC campaign, and its list of co-chairs includes former State Treasurers Walker Stapleton and Mark Hillman and 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler. Their goal is to convince voters that this request is different from the temporary TABOR refund timeout passed in 2005 because it’s permanent and because Colorado isn’t facing steep budget cuts from a recession.

Proposition CC asks voters to unwind part of a constitutional amendment called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The amendment changed how Colorado governments work in two important ways: It gave people the right to vote on all proposed tax increases, and it mandated that any money governments collected above a certain amount be refunded.

Although the requirement in TABOR that tax increase measures be subjected to a vote is of course the marquee feature of the 1992 law, held up as a model for the past 25 years despite no other state adopting a similar measure. That requirement sounded good enough to help pass TABOR by 53% in 1992, a margin that would not have allowed the measure to pass under current Colorado law.

George Brauchler.

But the lesser known restriction of revenue growth under TABOR has proven even more onerous, counterintuitively forcing the state to make painful choices even when times are good in order to stay under the measure’s artificial 6% cap–and refunding the money that goes over in pittance-sized refunds to taxpayers. Proposition CC would eliminate this cap, one of the less-understood but more pernicious effects of the law. Known as “de-Brucing,” it’s a step that most local governments in the state have already taken–as the Denver Post reported earlier this year:

Most local governments in Colorado no longer adhere to the TABOR spending limit.

All but four of Colorado’s 178 school districts have already “de-Bruced,” the nickname for permanently lifting the limit on the amount of tax dollars a government can keep. Eighty-five percent of Colorado’s municipalities and 51 of 64 counties have also convinced their voters to let them opt out.

“Nobody here is hopping mad at their local school district for doing this,” Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, said.

The fact that this measure is not asking for in increase in tax rates, but to eliminate a restriction on the back end of revenue growth that many voters would be surprised to learn even exists, make opposition to it more difficult. Most voters don’t even remember the last TABOR refunds of several years ago, which took the form of credits on income tax returns instead of a separate check and ranged from $13 to $41.

So how do you explain the opposition to Proposition CC by a crew of Republican usual suspects? That’s easy–TABOR is an article of faith to activist Colorado Republican base voters, to whom the measure’s net effect of throttling government revenue regardless of need is an ideological end unto itself. 2018 gubernatorial loser Walker Stapleton, attorney general loser George Brauchler, and long-irrelevant figures like Mark Hillman are all part of a generation of Colorado Republicans who rose to prominence in this political climate and will never turn against any aspect of TABOR publicly. As for ex-Gov. Bill Owens, who did turn against TABOR’s revenue caps in 2005? He’s spent every day since then trying to live Referendum C down–and opposing Proposition CC is just another chance to salvage his own dented conservative image.

Given the well-documented long-term fiscal challenges faced by the state of Colorado, there’s a strong argument that Proposition CC doesn’t do enough to alleviate TABOR’s chokehold on today’s priorities. But any way you slice it, the opposition to this measure is made up of the losing side of the past decade in Colorado politics.

Relics defending another relic.


20 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    My only problem with Cc is that it's on a off year ballot where turnout is likely to be low and weighed to conservative older voters.  Yes on CC — Bill Owens was right the first time!

  2. Diogenesdemar says:

    Lemesee . . . 

    . . . Our former governor, who, when he wasn’t banging attorneys, and couldn’t get funds to build his T-rex wet dream because of Tabor, and who didn’t want to ask voters for a tax increase to pay for it, and who then cooked up a scheme to bond our future federal highway funds revenue stream (ever get your thankyou note from those bond sellers and bankers for their 9-figure skim, . . . er, I mean, services fees?) — so that his “free” T-rex gets built, and Colorado’s other highway construction and repairs that those funds were supposed to provide for got cancelled, ignored, or pushed back a decade or more — now has some more fiscal and Tabor advice for Colorado???

    Fuxsakes, has there ever been a Colorado Governor less qualified to speak to fiscal responsibility matters and realities than Ballin’ Bill???

  3. 2Jung2Die2Jung2Die says:

    CU Regent Heidi Ganahl's not a loser yet, but she should start preparing to take that L should she choose to run for Regent again, since voters will be politely reminded of her role in opposing a measure that would directly provide money to the system she represents.

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      Oh, I'm sure Ganahl sees herself as governor in 2022.

    • Republican 36 says:

      The irony is all but overwhelming when we consider the opponents of Proposition CC call themselves Republicans.  Republican in one sense stands for a belief in a republican form of government which means we elect individuals as representatives to the legislative branch of government to enact our laws, including tax laws.  If we disagree with the laws they pass, we can defeat them at the next election.  That was one of the corner stones of our republican form of government at the national and state level.  Our founding fathers and mothers did not believe direct democracy worked.

      Underlying this opposition to Proposition CC, including Regent Ganahl's and the other opponents is the "Republican" rejection of that form of government.  They really don't believe in representative government.  Its a sad day when one party wants to undermine the form of government, the one chosen by the Founders, that has served us so well.


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