Today is the first day of the new legislative session here in Colorado, as members of the House and Senate swear an oath to uphold the state constitution. They’ve come for your wallets, so hold on tight. Stay in touch with what’s going on. Hold your elected officials accountable.
Today is officially Day 1 of “TABOR Watch” from the lookout posts at Mount Virtus. TABOR, short for the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, approved in 1992 by the voters of Colorado to check the size of government. And it has worked successfully. Yet among many in the media and the center-left of Colorado politics have made TABOR the scapegoat for all the state’s fiscal woes – ignoring the real problem of Amendment 23, which mandates a certain percentage of state funding finance K-12 public education.
Mount Virtus will play its small part to keep people informed about the facts of TABOR & Amendment 23 & keep an eye on what’s done to threaten the former & protect the latter.
In September 2000, as Amendment 23 was on the ballot prior to its passage, Independence Institute senior fellow and University of Colorado economics professor Barry Poulson correctly tagged the problem with the proposal:
The amendment is being touted as something that will be paid out of surplus state revenues. What happens if the economy slows down, and the surplus disappears? Then, the extra spending has to paid for out of general funds, meaning that other state programs would have to be cut. If the economy gets really bad, the Amendment allows the spending increase to be temporarily skipped.
The disadvantage of earmarking funds for education is that it removes discretion from the legislature in determining budget priorities between education and other state government programs. In short it gives the education lobby a privileged position in which they don’t have to defend their spending programs along with other state agencies and interest groups through the regular budgetary process. Now, the teachers’ unions don’t want to be perceived as a group of privilege seekers, but that is what they are in proposing this earmarking of state funds.
Read the whole thing. Check out the Institute’s TABOR page. Then take what you hear from the new Democrat majority (and even some wobbly Republicans) and liberal media types with a grain of salt.
And hold on to your wallet.