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A chance to tweak TABOR

Alex Miller

It’s been a long time since we’ve heard anything resembling good news about the state’s budget coming out of the capitol. But a plan to ask voters in November to retain $3.1 billion over the next five years was recently approved by the Senate, and state number-crunchers were able to cobble together a budget that will keep Colorado in the black over the coming year.It’s sometimes hard to believe all the fuss being made over “a few billion dollars” in a time when we’ve become inured to such colossal numbers. Three billion bucks? We spend about twice that much each month on the war in Iraq. But it’s a lot for Colorado, and hanging onto it would go a long way toward mending some of the damage caused by the TABOR amendment.It seemed like a good idea at the time, limiting government spending and requiring a vote of the people for any tax hikes. And there are still some elements of TABOR that might make better sense if they were accompanied by some extenuating situation clauses. But that’s not the way the law was written, and the effects of TABOR have had numerous negative impacts on the state that those of us who voted for TABOR in 1992 couldn’t have foreseen. All you have to do is look at our schools, our roads and many of our social programs to know that we’ve suffered unnecessarily under this law, Now it’s time to curtail this damage in November.It could be a tough sell. It’s too early to know what pro-TABOR forces will come out of the woodwork to urge opposition to the proposal. Groups that embrace black-and-white thinking love everything about the flawed constitutiona. amendment – so much so that they’re wanting to spread even the flaws to other states. But look more closely at TABOR more pernicious strictures have done to Colorado and it’s chilling to think of this spreading, plague-like, across the country. This won’t be a simple referendum to understand, and we urge you to listen to the dialogue that will take place over the next seven months, ignore the shrill ads from either side, and learn the basics of TABOR and the referendum before going to the polls. On a state level, this will be one of the most important votes we’ll ever cast.Vail, Colorado


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