Don’t Underestimate Support for TABOR

The dead governors at Colorado Pols point to the results of a new survey co-sponsored by the Independence Institute and the Colorado Club for Growth:

Of 600 likely Colorado voters who participated in the last election…
52% oppose the ‘De-Brucing’ changes to TABOR proposed by Speaker Andrew Romanoff and others.
33% support the ‘De-Brucing.’

The dead governors complain that the poll should be taken worth a grain of salt because of who commissioned the poll to be taken, then speculates about how the question must have been worded:

…what the survey does show is that Colorado’s elected officials aren’t doing a very good job at getting across the problems that TABOR has created. While we certainly understand that this is no easy task – heck, TABOR is more complicated than the dewey decimal system – legislators clearly need to work harder to make the problems clear.

We are somewhat familiar with polling data and how to use it, and those low number for TABOR changes reflect as much a misunderstanding of TABOR as it does a dislike of changing it. If the questions were worded in such a way that they presented the tax break as the primary benefit (for example: “Would you like to see tax breaks repealed in Colorado?) then obviously the answer is going to be NO. But if the question was, “Would you like to see TABOR changed?” then most people wouldn’t be able to fairly answer the question.

This statement is confusing. Apparently if you describe TABOR to voters and the proposed changes, then ask whether they support or oppose it, that it isn’t fair? Perhaps someone may present a “fairer wording” than the way the question was presented to poll respondents:

“In 1992, voters passed the Taxpayers Bill of Rights or TABOR. This constitutional amendment limited state government income and spending to an amount equal to inflation plus population growth. All revenue over that amount must be refunded to the taxpayers, or the government must hold an election to ask to keep all or a portion of that surplus. From 1997 to 2002, TABOR refunded $3.25 billion to taxpayers, or about $3,200 for an average family of four. It also required all tax increases be approved by the voters.

“Today, some say Colorado is in a budget crisis because of TABOR. They want to allow the state government to keep $500 million more per year, meaning that all tax refunds would be reduced or eliminated. Another change would allow governments to return to the taxing and spending levels prior to recessions which reduced government taxing and spending. Do you support or oppose making these changes to TABOR?”

The dead governors even point to a newsletter from Senate Education Committee Chair Sue Windels, trying to create a workable analogy to explain the budget crisis. Lake Dillon? This poor analogy equates natural beauty (i.e., the lake filling with water) to the amount of money government has to spend. It’s very easy to blame TABOR for everything, if you enter with the assumption that government having money is a beautiful thing. Maybe I’ll have more time to deconstruct Senator Windels’ folly later. I’m not sure I want her to explain TABOR’s complexities, though.

More later on the poll’s similarly worded question regarding Amendment 23.


  1. says

    I see in the Loveland Reporter-Herald, for whatever that is worth, given the overall lack of respectability and credibility said newspaper has, an unsigned editorial wants at least ten million dollars from TABOR to update the intersection of I-25 and Highway 34 because the Bros. McWhinney have developed around it and have compounded the traffic there.

    This is just one more example of why TABOR should not be overturned. Do this, do that, and soon all the monies by way TABOR will be gone and the State of Colorado will be in a bigger financial mess than ever.

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