Voters must beware the pitfalls of supporting Amendment 66

Route 66 is a famous highway; Amendment 66 is a fiscal dead end, taking over a billion dollars yearly in new state taxes. Here are three strikes against 66 almost no one knows:

The first is their bogus ballot title. TABOR (the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) requires a tax increase ballot title begin, “Shall state taxes be increased ($x) annually…?” When the state title board first met, the fiscal estimate was just under $1.5 billion yearly.

A cost 50 percent above their failed 2011 tax hike would be fatal, so the teachers union sought a rehearing. The state agreed to lower the tax estimate one-third, to just below $1 billion. It declared that reduction corrected an innocent ($500 million) mistake.

Would a private analyst making such a “mistake” keep his job? No. Should those who deceive voters get huge pay raises? No. Are they morally fit to teach your children? No.

The second scam is the ballot title omission. State law requires ballot titles list major features fairly. Tax payers love TABOR; tax spenders despise it. So state employees hid the fact that 66 repeals TABOR’s constitutional guarantee of a uniform income tax (equal protection, the same for everyone). Today’s rate is 4.63 percent of federal taxable income. 66 establishes two tax rates.

The tax pushers want a 5 percent rate for those who earn up to $75,000 taxable income (an 8 percent hike), but then use Obama’s class warfare playbook to demonize “the rich” (those making over $75,000). Such “evil people” (like employers) will pay 5.9 percent on income above $75,000, a 27.4 percent increase.

The third trick is their proposal. They amend the constitution to repeal TABOR’s flat rate income tax, but everything else is ordinary law. Any statute can be changed by our Legislature any time, even a voter-approved one. If gullible voters pass Amendment 66, politicians can apply the 5.9 percent rate to income over $50,000, then $25,000, $10,000, and eventually all income over $1. That means no voter approval for hundreds of millions in new taxes.

They planned for this because their ballot title says the tax after the first year can raise “whatever is collected,” ignoring the legally-required “annual” (year by year) limit.

The claim this tax is “for the children” is the biggest lie of all. No child gets one dollar. It all goes for government’s near-monopoly on juvenile indoctrination. Nearly all the money will go for pay raises, either directly or by propping up their debt-ridden PERA pension plan.

The state treasurer, who sits on the retirement board, has written that all these billions can prop up the $25 billion deficit in profligate pension plans paying all of today’s government workers (not just teachers) nearly full salaries for life, for not working.

A majority of government school employees are not teachers. They are administrators and other bureaucrats. How is giving a 20 percent pay raise to an assistant principal, union representative, or guidance counselor “for the children?”

Since 1971, per-student school spending has soared 446 percent after inflation. Are schools getting better? No. Liberals told us passing Amendment 23 in 2000 would solve their “funding problem.” They lied. Referendum C in 2005? Another lie. This year’s state marijuana tax? Ditto.

Total education spending is over $10,000 per student. For 25 students per classroom, that exceeds $250,000. If a teacher gets $50,000 in salary and benefits (for working nine months per year), where does the other $200,000 (80 percent) go? Sure, we need buildings, utilities, books, and some administration, but 80 percent for overhead is obscene.

The ills of our socialized baby sitting factories will not be solved by writing a check. Money cannot fix discipline problems, fire incompetent teachers, or improve academic performance.

Businesses won’t invest in a state constantly piling on more taxes. Say good bye to good jobs. That’s why Colorado’s economic recovery is slower than states that have cut taxes.

The only valid reforms are parental choice and school competition. Freedom always works; centralized tyranny always fails. Vote “no” on Amendment 66, then distribute fliers at store exits and email and phone everyone you know. The teachers union will spend millions to get their billion dollars a year; $5 million would reap a 200-to-1 annual return on their “investment” in our enslavement.

You must resist. Do it for the children.

-Douglas Bruce, a former prosecutor, legislator and county commissioner, authored The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) constitutional amendment. He can be reached at

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