EDITORIAL: Celebrate TABOR for Making Colorado strong | Colorado Springs Gazette, News
Colorado is reliably hot, economically. During good times and bad nationally and internationally, the economy typically produces above-average indicators when compared to other states. When Forbes, Business Insider and others rank states by economic performance, Colorado sometimes ranks first and seldom fails to finish among the top five.
One economic factor makes Colorado different than all other states. It’s called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Only Colorado has such a law.
TABOR is like that persnickety old-school spouse who won’t let the household live beyond its means. The rest of the family may resent the rules, because compulsive spending is fun. But they ultimately benefit from the safety and security of a stable home.
The law restricts government spending with a formula that accounts for inflation and population growth. If revenues exceed what the formula allows, politicians must return the windfalls unless voters say otherwise. All changes to tax policy must be approved by a public vote.
TABOR is constantly under attack because it tells politicians “no.” It limits their ability to spend. But the benefits are not in question if one examines the facts.
A new study by Colorado’s Independence Institute titled “Two Decades of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights,” tells a story that’s not surprising to staunch TABOR supporters.
The study analyzes three decades of Colorado’s economic performance, including: The 1983-92 decade preceding TABOR’s enactment by voters; the first decade of TABOR, 1993-2002; and the second decade, 2003-2012. That study found:
– State government taxes and spending grew at more than double the rate of inflation plus population growth in the pre-TABOR decade. TABOR stopped the trend in decade one, and rapid government spending returned in decade two, after voters temporarily suspended TABOR restrictions with Referendum C.
– In the pre-TABOR decade, private-sector job growth was slightly below government job growth. In TABOR Decade-1, private-sector job growth was much greater than government job growth. In Decade-2, during the TABOR time out of Referendum C, private-sector job growth slowed.
– State government taxing and spending grew faster than the income of Coloradans in all three decades, but the disparity was small in TABOR Decade-1.
– Compared to national income growth, personal income growth in Colorado was significantly greater in Decade-1. In the pre-TABOR decade and the TABOR timeout decade, personal income growth was closer to the lower levels in other states.
– Compared to national output growth, Colorado’s economic growth was better than national economic growth in Decade-1, and much worse in the other decades.
– TABOR has saved the average family of four more than $24,000.
The study leaves no doubt that Colorado outperforms other states when TABOR is left to curtail government spending.
We need a reasonable level of services from state government. We must improve and maintain transportation assets, public education and safety. But great economies are not built by bloated governments and politicians with insatiable appetites for spending private sector earnings.
In Colorado, the state constitution protects our money and allows the economy to thrive.
The Gazette editorial board