The real cost of Referenda C and D |

The real cost of Referenda C and D

Marty Lich
Marty Lich

To vote “yes” on Referenda C and D means no new tax increases. What it does represent to Colorado taxpayers is a dismantling of TABOR (the Colorado Taxpayers Bill of Rights) along with an increase in the amount of tax money you pay to our state each year.

TABOR was created and voted into place to protect state taxpayers’ paychecks by ensuring our lawmakers live within a budget, and requires that any tax increase must be approved by the voters of the affected government.

Referendum C will increase the base of spending, so our state spending would go higher every year. This will be a permanent tax change, ratcheting up the spending of your tax dollars. Voting yes on Referendum C will represent a net tax increase of an estimated $3.74 billion for the first five years, and Referendum D is a measure to repay the state debt of $3.225 billion, again out of your tax dollars.

“Cut the fat.”

Proponents of passing both C and D state we need additional tax money funding for our public schools, our health care and Medicaid. So let’s look at our increased costs in the three areas and how we can reduce state tax expenditures without opening the door for the “No Taxpayer Vote Needed Now for New Taxes,” also referred to as Referenda C and D.

Begin with our school population and the driving force behind too many students and not enough tax money to support them. Between 1990 and 2000, Colorado’s primary school enrollment’s increased by 32 percent. In Eagle County we spend an average yearly cost of $7,000 per general education student. Add to that the fact that in nine years Eagle County School District has seen an increase of non-English speaking students, going from less than 100 students to well over 2,000. In fact, we have the fourth highest illegal population in Colorado. Our total state expenditure for illegal alien children in our Colorado schools is $140.6 million a year. The state of Colorado spends at least $50 million of that a year educating children from Mexico alone. Remember all children born here to illegal alien parents are not counted as immigrants, they are American citizens.

Next examine the health care crisis in Colorado. The physicians and hospitals are correct in saying without additional tax money paid by you, they are in serious financial trouble. Financial grief brought on by the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires our hospitals to treat all patients regardless of their lawful or unlawful United States entry or ability to pay. This carries a hefty taxpayer price tag. The uncompensated money spent in Colorado for just illegal alien’s medical care alone, fiscal year 2004, was almost $3.5 million dollars.

Now move onto Medicaid, our tax-money-supported health care program for people living in poverty. Per the supporters of Referenda C and D, the number of Medicaid and food stamp recipients is rising at a pace far faster than the national average. Forty-two percent of Colorado’s Medicaid-funded births are to mothers that have entered the United States illegally. Colorado’s emergency Medicaid program paid an estimated $30 million in hospital and physician delivery costs for about 6,000 illegal immigrant mothers – an average of $5,000 per baby. Per the 2000 Census it was found that 54.4 percent of Colorado’s foreign-born population had arrived in our state since 1990, a number also rising steadily and placing Colorado at the tenth highest illegal alien population in America. Twenty-two percent of Colorado’s illegal immigrant families live below the poverty level, meaning they qualify for TANF (welfare), Medicaid, WIC grocery money, tax-subsidized utilities, subsidized housing costs, free breakfast and lunch programs at school, free preschool, free all-day Kindergarten, free dental care and free Eagle County Department of Health care. Free to them and costly to you, the Colorado state taxpayer.

“Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul …”

State Rep. Gary Lindstrom, who represents Eagle County, recently said, “We’ve been using our MasterCard to pay our Visa bills for the past few years.” He then went on to say the state is raiding the pension funds of the police and firefighters as well.

I shudder to think that if this is fiscally responsible behavior now exhibited by our representatives in Colorado with TABOR, what it will be like if our open government is allowed to spend freely without any taxpayer accountability? If C and D pass they will nullify TABOR, right along with your right to vote no on any new taxes.

Do we all want and deserve a better quality of life for our Colorado families, including all legal immigrants here? Of course we do. Do we owe the people who are breaking our laws a right to our tax-funded services? No, we do not, yet they are a significant player in our current state deficit.

The bottom line is this: TABOR made our government fiscally responsible to the Colorado taxpayers who pay the bills in this state. To vote yes on Referenda C and D will remove any governmental spending constraints and that is just plain scary. VT

Marty Lich is a Gypsum resident.

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