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April 29, 2011 09:36 AM UTC

Gov. Jan Brewer: TABOR in Colorado a "Failed Experiment"

  • by: c rork

(This will be a fun one for TABOR diehards to rationalize. Jan Brewer is no “RINO” — this is the same Governor who tells scary stories about the border that are largely untrue. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Now, I have been critical of Gov. Jan Brewer from time to time. I have characterized her in unkind ways and have opposed her inflammatory rhetoric vehemently. But I believe in giving credit where credit is due.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has just vetoed a TABOR incarnate based on some sound reasoning:

“Unfortunately, House Bill 2012 uses a mechanism that is too restrictive. We should learn from the State of Colorado that experimented with a similar mechanism, an experiment that failed.”

Look, when Gov. Jan Brewer is giving us lessons on fiscal policy, it might be time to look ourselves in the mirror. The character that wrote TABOR was recently imprisoned and Colorado’s fiscal situation is dependent on whether we, as a state, can envision serving our citizens with adequate services.

If you’re wondering why Jan Brewer considers TABOR as unwise fiscal policy, simply look to the Bell Policy Center’s Ten Years of Tabor. It is key to understanding why Colorado is 50th in the nation in state support for higher education, 47th in K-12 and stuck in a situation where that support is continually eroding.

Although I’m glad our state is a cautionary tale to states considering arbitrary “spending limits”, Colorado is lacking a concerted effort to fix our budget problems by increasing revenue or reforming the state constitution.

In fact, Rep. Delgrosso and Rep. Beezley are trying to reinstate the same spending caps that Gov. Brewer is talking about in her letter through House Bill 1280. SB 09-228 cleared many of the absurd “spending limits” and formulas in TABOR that would have had a ratchet effect on state services during a prolonged recession.

“Coloradans were upset when Democrats in the legislature repealed the long-standing spending limit,” said Beezley. “This proposal reinstates that limit and ensures that Colorado has a prudent spending limit in place.”

This veto is an egg in the face to the proponents of TABOR and House Bill 1280 that view ludicrous fiscal policy and perpetual budget deficits as a success. Let us hope that our state, and others, can learn from this failed experiment.


67 thoughts on “Gov. Jan Brewer: TABOR in Colorado a “Failed Experiment”

    1. The power to elect someone to represent them. That’s what makes our system work. You and I should not be in charge of making multi-billion dollar budget decisions based on misleading TV ads.

      Instead, we elect representatives who have the time and resources available to carefully consider these decisions. And if we don’t like the decision our representatives make, we can elect someone else.

      Why don’t TABOR supporters believe in our founding father’s vision of government?  

        1. Section 4 – Republican government

          The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

          “Republican Form of Government”


          republic n 1 : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and is usually a president; also : a nation or other political unit having such a government 2 : a government in which supreme power is held by the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives governing according to law; also : a nation or other political unit having such a form of government

          In the context of the United States, both definitions apply.

          bolding is mine.

          1. Today’s system matches none of your definitions. Also, as the voter franchise increases, socialism becomes a reality.

            How was Republic defined by the framers rather than modern Webster?

            1. Which means they cannot perform their fundamental representative function: budget, authorize, appropriate and fund the functions of our gov’t.

              At best, Colorado only has a partially republican form of gov’t.

    1. As the tax rate approaches zero, tax revenues approach infinity. We can have everything we want for free.

      Not only that, but every company in the world will locate here. We could have the best churches, the best private schools, the best private health care, the best toll roads, and the best private prisons. It’ll be like China-rado.

      1. in some things, like the timeliness of processing food stamp applications.  It’s fun to tell people we’re 51st in something because they get to so confused 🙂

    1. has the lowest tax rates on business, and the lowest state unemployment.


      Of course, it could be that when North Dakotans become unemployed- they leave the state and are not counted.  Hmmm, I wonder if there would be any other data point that would help understand what is going on there.  Oh, too bad we don’t have historical and current population counts in ND. Then we could see if ND population is increasing, staying the same or decreasing. And if it’s the former or the latter, whether it’s at a similar rate or faster or slower than other states.

      And, obviously, we would then nderstand why everyone is moving out of Connecticut, New York, Massachussets, California, New Jersey and other “high tax” states. Right?

      1. North Dakota, would you want to stay there?

        I think you’ve got it wrong.  The people in North Dakota who have jobs scrimp and save and scrape enough together until they can afford the U-Haul and get the hell away.  If you have a job in North Dakota, you’ve got Hope (of making an escape).

        That departure opens up some new job opportunity for some poor schmuck to take that abandoned job and work until he can do the same for himself and his family . . .

        On the bright side, if TABOR continues to adversely affect Coloradans and the State, then we too someday, in the not too distanst future, will be able to have our own North-Dakota-style program of full employment.

        TABOR — Making Colorado too crazy for Jan Brewer.

      2. For all the unskilled jobs they have as roughnecks in the oil fields. They’re having a gaspatch-like boom right now, building housing left and right that will all collapse in value with the price of oil crashes or when they run out.

    2. This is not a new development. Colorado is prosperous because of our weather. That’s it, seriously. We import all our talent because people like the weather and all the things you can do as a result of that weather (skiing, camping, etc.). If we had Chicago’s weather, this would be a natural resources state with no real population centers like Idaho or the Dakotas.

      I’m not excusing it, I’m just saying there’s no real momentum to fix it. Perhaps some well-heeled tech company types should fund a public education campaign about the need for public education.

      Perhaps some well-heeled software types who disliked the Amazon tax should join forces with people of like minds around the country where Amazon is causing similar losses of tax revenues and advocate for national tax reform.

      There are just so many good things that well-heeled software types could be doing with their money-that would have long-term dividends, and I know at least half a dozen of those types in Boulder alone. One’s even a member of Congress. How’s that for a foot in the door?

      1. Have you been to Boise, Idaho lately or have any idea the number of major corporations?  Then you have Pocatello/Idaho Falls and Coeur d’ Alene/Spokane, WA.  By the way – people are moving into the state.  

        1. Yes their cities are growing, but their largest city is about the size of some of our bedroom communities (200,000-ish), and Colorado’s not exactly a high population state.

          1. have merged (seriously) and unfortunately the only way you know you are leaving one or entering another is a exit signs on the freeway or transportation corridors along one suburb after another. It’s maddening to those of us who knew that beautiful area before the developers were allowed to run amok.  Same is true in the other red dot areas you sited.  Maybe it’s only an interpretation of what population centers are to you.  No they aren’t metropolitan areas, i.e. the front range but I know there are no pheasant running through the former small acreages out on Hill Road or horse farms driving out to Eagle. If we hadn’t started the Greenbelt along the Boise River in the late 60’s connecting some great parks there would be very little open space in what is known as the Boise Valley.  

            By the way, the biggest land owner is the Federal government which accounts for the largest areas of dark green.  

            Just saying your idea of what Idaho is is misplaced.  That’s all  

      2. Have you been to Boise, Idaho lately or have any idea the number of major corporations?  Then you have Pocatello/Idaho Falls and Coeur d’ Alene/Spokane, WA.  By the way – people are moving into the state.  

        1. The reason the corporations and Wall Street are so willing to spend money is to eliminate competition and the uncertainty that comes with having competition. That includes competition with outside industries.  

          Look at the anti-anything not created by carbon of the power industry.  Once the citizens started passing forced wind power those corporations started to change. However, their lobbing efforts are towards letting them do the regulations and keeping the competition away.

          It is cheaper to buy off the R’s and D’s than it is to have to actually be competitive.  A few hundred thousand to buy an election and the Supreme Court of the U.S. is money well spent.

        2. Representation requires participation more extensive than NIMBYism. They need to advocate for things, and being particularly logical yet visionary people, they should be advocating for big things. Like fundamentally making our tax system fairer and easier while raising revenue to pay for things like free college for anyone with the academic chops to take advantage of it.

          Besides, some do plenty of lobbying. Three of the four horsemen are software people (Gill, Polis, & Bridges). And while they’ve since moved onto other things, they all started their grassroots lobbying and major political giving while they were still running their young companies.

          1. I would love to have more impact in politics. But I don’t have the time. If you work at a start-up you don’t have a life outside of work. Once you’re done with it you can (the three horsemen) but not while you’re in it.  

  1. Upon further inspection it has been determined that the proposed Arizona bill has NOTHING in common with any past or present Colorado fiscal guidelines. Furthermore Jan Brewer has expressed concern the Bill would not give Arizona tax payers the protections they deserve. “An effective spending limit would eliminate the state’s ability to spend one-time or bubble revenue while allowing future legislatures and governors to manage normal revenue growth” “Spending limits that are too generous, like our current constitutional limit, ultimately become irrelevant and do not protect the state. Likewise, unreasonable spending limits will be suspended or repealed and become equally irrelevant. Unfortunately, House Bill 2707 uses a mechanism that is too restrictive. We should learn from the state of Colorado that experimented with a similar mechanism, an experiment that failed.”

    Commission). The Commission is comprised of not more than three members and determines the state’s estimated total personal income for the upcoming fiscal year.

    The Constitution further provides that the state Legislature shall not appropriate state revenues in excess of seven percent of the total personal income as determined by the Commission. The limitation may be exceeded upon affirmative vote of two-thirds of each house of the Legislature on each measure that appropriates amounts in excess of the limitation.  Revenues subject to the appropriations limit include taxes, university collections, licenses, fees and permits.

    Additionally, the Constitution allows for the adjustment of the appropriation limitation if governmental functions are transferred among levels of government. Over the years, the state has assumed governmental functions resulting in a commensurately increased appropriation limit. According to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s (JLBC) FY 2011 State Appropriations Limit report, the current appropriations limit is 7.41 percent of personal income.  This percentage has remained constant since 1999.

      1. 7% of personal income is nowhere close to anything on the books here in Colorado. Not even close. Who has been blowing smoke up Jan Brewers tailpipe?

        The personal income formula would be an improvement. Essentially, unless we have more money, they do not get more. This should be applied to every level of government, from special district to the Federally.

              1. That was my hand slapping Mark G. in the face for missing the point of the post.

                The point of the post was to show that even Republican governors are using Colorado as an example of what NOT to do and that formulas are arbitrary. I guess that flew right over his head.  

  2. Governor Jan Brewer is known to champion tax increases that would make Tip O’Neill blush

    Her ‘fervor’ and popularity amongst Republicans is completely based upon the bigoted (and big government) Arizona immigration bill 1070, which again, would heavily expand government and ultimately, need many more tax increases to fulfill its goals

    The problem with the GOP today is that they are NOT fiscal conservatives – they are Totalitarians, who believe in collecting taxes for the sake of propogating a ‘big goverment’ that will selectively target certain people, based on religion, sexual orientation, or race, and ostracize those selected groups under the flag of ‘good security’ and ‘protection’

    Jan Brewer doesn’t like TABOR? That’s no surprise to me – TABOR is an interruption within the Totalitarian Big Government GOP plans

    Love and peace all! (great to be a Democrat!)

    1. Can you give me an example of when Colorado, or Arizona for that matter, had state spending spin wildly out of control? Seems like these formulas and spending limits are solutions in search of a problem.

      I think this small government/big govt. argument is a false dichotomy. I want the right size. I thought you might be past it now that you’re a Democrat. 🙂

      1. In running my own business and serving as a tyro-teacher in public schools, I’ve come to embrace formulas that drive down budgets, as I’ve seen that one is often left with departments that are more efficient, mainly because there are fewer people working and every dollar is accounted for (thus spent wisely)

        It is a common notion that more people working in a department equals more efficiency, but I’ve often found that much better work gets done with smaller departments – I don’t have a business study, at this time, to prove my point – it’s simply a point of experience that comes from running my film production company as well as my campaigns for office

        That said – I’m not against unions or government – I just want a government that will squeeze the water out of every dollar it uses – hope that helps? Nonetheless, were probably walking into one of those debates where we agree to disagree and at least celebrate that were in the right Party together 🙂

          1. Government and it’s agencies should be efficient. But our state government is being cut beyond any reasonable effort to institute efficiency! Cuts: $36 million to higher ed, $950 per pupil cut, 50th in the nation. $256 (or $190 depending on revenue forecasts in the “deal”) million to K-12, $400 per pupil cut, 47th in the nation in funding. The irony is that our higher education system is the 2nd most efficient in the nation and overall funding for our K-12 system is low. Efficiency isn’t our problem, it’s state support.

            If we were talking about the Federal govt., believe me, I would cede that point about efficiency. But here you are wrong, and that’s a fact. Our $7 bil budget is about the same amount it was at the beginning of the decade, and we have added hundreds of thousands of residents. We are set to exceed 7 mil residents by 2050. You think we can meet our state needs with that size general fund and 49th in the nation (per $1000) state taxes? With $515 million in higher ed funding? When our funding in 1980 dollars was $550 million? Wanna talk K-12 problems?

            These limits and formulas are meaningless, and I’d be glad to explain why.  

            1. The State Budget has progressively increased by enormous amounts every year – I’m happy to find a link, but in running for State House, I recall seeing that State spending was increasing greatly each year – I have heard a ton about the ratchet down effect, but I have not seen anyone actually argue its existence with facts – if you can, I’m all ears – but again, the budget has progressively increased, year by year, in Colorado

              1. so has the population (and that’s all by itself without accounting for the increasing costs of providing the same levels of services to that increasing population).


                1. Have yet to see a scientific study that proves the ratchet effect exists – like I said above, I’m all ears if you can produce it

                  So far Dio, all you’re producing is shallow sarcasm – it has no affect on my opinion

                  1. much about your “opinion,” TABOR4LIFE always seemed more of a hereditary creed.

                    Perhaps if you’d ever stooped to travel in the lowly company of a few state employees who have seen their benefits dwindle and wither over the past decade and even while their costs have escalated for them like everyone else they’ve enjoyed the thrill of having their incomes stall, stagnate, and finally move backwards.  Or maybe if you’d been paying the increasing costs that a parent must for public and higher education in this state while the state cuts funding to educate it’s citizens.  Maybe then you’d have some sense of the ratchet.

                    You can’t see what you choose to ignore, my friend.

                    Maybe, instead, you’ve been reading all those scientific studies that show how much things have improved in this country and what great public works we’ve accomplished during this time that we’ve loaded the burden of government onto the donkeys of the middle and lower classes by force feeding more and more tax cuts into the bloated maws of the millionaires and billionaires?  Maybe you’ve read the one about all the tremendous societal benefits we’re realizing from the great income inequity of America’s current gilded age?

                    Why should the lazy American working classes enjoy the kinds of progress that is being seen around the Pacific rim and Europe?  We’ve got tax cuts to build for the monied offspring of our future generations.

                    And, thank Zarathustra for my pitiable shallow sarcasm buddy, because without it about all I’ve got left these days is plain old vanilla pissed-off.

                    1. I don’t see a study

                      I see a LOT of platitudes in your post, Dio, but no study or fact

                      If you want to make this a competition of compassion Dio, then I have spent over a year and a half working as a volunteer tyro-teacher in the public schools of Los Angeles – I’ve also knocked on thousands of voter doors hearing the plights of many – granted, I haven’t donated elk meat to the poor, but I’m not without compassion

                      Is it that hard to show me a study? Because right now, the ratchet down seems to be a theory, not a fact  

                    2. Please accept my sincere apologies for my last comment.  It was more than uncalled for.  I am sorry.

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