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That article/editorial is almost a month old
(May 31st). There has been a lot more recent news on C & D you could of gone with instead.


Considering it was written on May 31, before revised economic forecasts show that it will really be more like a $3.6 billion tax increase, it's a pretty good article.

Except for this little frequently-used, misleading factoid:

"Greeley-Evans District 6 School Board member Bruce Broderius said people concerned about public education should know that the ballot questions would translate into more money for Colorado's public schools, which rank 48th in the nation for state funding."

Is Colorado's per-pupil spending below the national average? Yes, slightly. Do we rank 48th? Nowhere near that low. According to the notoriously right-wing [sarcasm] National Education Association's data, Colorado ranks 26th in per-pupil funding. Look it up.

The lobbies constantly demanding more money for K-12 education have two problems: 1) they never say how much would be enough; and 2) they resist reasonable accountability measures, freedom of choice for parents, and calls to spend the money more efficiently.

Ask people if spending $7,500 or more per student (operating budgets only, not including capital construction costs) is enough. If most businesses spent their budgets the way a lot of school districts do, well, they wouldn't be in business.

You want local control? Give schools more flexibility, autonomy, and control over budgets and personnel. Educate and empower parents with more choices. Make education primarily about the kids and not about the special interests. Let's reform the system to make it work, rather than blindly pouring more money down the hole and expecting nothing in return.

(I now leave my soapbox.) Thank you.

Alva Adams

The key to why this is a good article is in the way the information is presented. The writer did a good job of making a very complex issue easier to understand. You don't see that often with most media outlets.

Hugo O'conor

They made it easy to understand in a way that is support for C&D. They did not give any balanced answers.

Phoenix Rising


48th in funding: Colorado was 48th in funding before Amendment 23 went into effect; last year, we were 35th, IIRC. If the NEA now holds us at 26th, I wouldn't find it completely impossible. Before TABOR, Colorado was 2nd in the nation in education spending; that is one of the big reasons the tech industry moved here, and our fall from the top is one of the reasons companies have chosen to close Colorado offices over others since the bubble burst. Which raised and is now lowering our tax revenue, which...


Phoenix Rising is either Andrew Romanoff, Andrew Romanoff's speech writer, or has heard Andrew Romanoff's speech on TABOR 10-too-many times (join the club). It's nice sounding rhetoric (about companies leaving per TABOR), but it doesn't happen to be true, or at least I'm still waiting to hear that from a CEO of a company that's left Colorado. It actually raises an interesting dynamic in the Ref. C and D dynamic. Most Colorado voters don't feel any pinch (thus proponents polls putting C & D at 44% - WOW!), so the advocates have to make up these wild scenarios which just aren't believable to the average person, which only further undermines C& D's base line credibility. I must say it is a real dillema for the purveyors of C and D - they can either speak factually, and point out that transportation and colleges have been cut in order to sustain massive Amendment 23-caused funding increases (read that: nothing to do with TABOR). But then that really doesn't help with C & D a whole lot. Or they can say that the sky is falling and roads are crumbling and ceilings in schools are collapsing and businesses are fleeing in droves, all of which would make a compelling story line if it happened to be true. But it's not true, and voters know it, and this thing is sunk even before people suck down their 4th of July hot dog.

Hugo O'conor

Silly me, I thought that the reason companies chose to close their doors was because they went bust in the DotCom bubble burst. Capital investors asked to see something in return for their millions of dollars in investments and most companies had nothing to show for it. I guess I never realized that it was really all over TABOR. I guess if we do away wit TABOR investors will start flushing money down the toilets again. Good idea!


RUSERIOUS - I am going to try to refute every out right lie you made in your post. It seems you are the one that is having trouble with the facts.

"I'm still waiting to hear that from a CEO of a company that's left Colorado." - Joe Blake, the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, will head the Coloradoans for Responsible Reform. You think he might know what CEOs in our state want and he is pushing for the passage of Referendum C on the Nov. 1 ballot.

"Most Colorado voters don't feel any pinch (thus proponents polls putting C & D at 44% - WOW!), so the advocates have to make up these wild scenarios which just aren't believable to the average person, which only further undermines C& D's base line credibility." - anyone that goes to a public higher education institute in Colorado has seen their tuition go up significantly. Colorado State (my alma mater) is looking at a 15 percent tuition increase. Just one "credible" example...I could go on and on.

"point out that transportation and colleges have been cut in order to sustain massive Amendment 23-caused funding increases (read that: nothing to do with TABOR)" - Our budget crisis is because of amendment 23 AND TABOR. Our budget for higher education, transportation, jails... is being squeezed from both directions. Amendment 23 is a problem but there are no Referendums on the ballot to fix amendment 23 so we can only deal with TABOR this time around. Maybe if people like you actually cared about Colorado then you would get something on the ballot but instead you just want to point fingers as our state goes down toilet.

You are a classic example of the whiniest generation I have talked about over and over. It seem that people like you could really care less what condition they leave our state in for the next generation.

At one time a generation took pride in the fact they were leaving our country in a better condition for the next generation. And we wonder why we can't compete in a global economy when people like you refuse to make the basic investments to allow the next generation to enjoy the same standard of living that we currently enjoy.

I would suggest that you pull your head out, breathe some nice fresh air and try thinking about our state instead of yourself for a change.


Thanks for the lecture marshall. Brilliant prose aside, I'm still waiting for an example of a company that pulled up stakes and left town because of TABOR. Joe Blake is a super guy; perhaps you can find out from him the name of a company that's on its way out because of TABOR. We'll look forward to that post. As to the problem being both TABOR and 23 related, on that point you are correct. Funny that the politicians in Denver only want to deal with the tax side, pretending as though spending isn't part of the problem. The teachers union will never let 23 be fixed (as long as the Dems are in charge) which is why a lot of taxpayers like me aren't particularly eager to talk about a TABOR timeout. As a last observation, your inane and hateful language seems to fall right in the trap that the Independence Institute and others are setting for you -- the sky is falling, the world rests on the brink, vote for C and D so that our state doesn't "go down the toilet." Funny, CO's economy is growing like gangbusters without Ref. C and D. That may not fit into your hyperbolic "down the toilet" bumper sticker, but that's reality and the voters know it.

free markets

Marshall, some of us believe that is is by defeating Ref. C & D that we guarantee the best possible world is passed on to the next generation.

You deteriote the debate when you impugn people's motives, and self-righteously declare yourself the only responsible individual involved. "Gee, if only every one cared as much about the next generation as grand old me."

Let's stick to some facts, and leave the histrionics for another time. Like play time.

The facts are: the state budget is the largest is has ever been, a full 50% larger than it was just 8 years ago.

However, it is perfectly true that real per capita spending is down, which is the figure that TABOR is designed to first freeze, and then ratchet down.

Referendum C, however, is not designed to allow real per capita spending to bounce back to pre-recession levels. It is designed to be a complete time-out of TABOR for five years, meaning that the new cap is set at the highest point achieved in the next five years. Anyone who argues that at no point in those five years will real per capita revenues be above pre-recession levels is smoking crack rock. Referendum C will almost assuredly allow the state government (measured by real per capita spending) to grow to the largest point in its history.

I'm not on the side of people who think this is necessary. Certain areas of our budget are getting socked hard (like higher ed) because spending in other areas has been set on auto-pilot.

Corrections spending is caseload-driven, but no serious thought has been put into sentencing reform or several other ways to reduce society's dependence on incarceration.

Medicare/Medicaid spending is entitlement based, and comes with federal matching dollars, but still very little thought (beyond the Johnson/Hagedorn PDL bill) has been put into market-based ways to control costs.

Education, as we know, is protected by Amendment 23. If it had been available to take, say, a 2% reduction, higher ed and almost all the other departments would not have had to do more than, say, an equal 2% cut. But since Am 23 required this department to be increased, the others had to take huge, irrational cuts.

The story here is SPENDING. It is spending that is out of control - quite literally. Only about 25% of the budget is discretionary, meaning that the other 75% is defined as outside of our control.

Referendum C proponents could have asked for a measure that would have brought the state back to pre-recession levels. Instead they removed the TABOR cap altogether for five years, guaranteeing a huge increase in government, well above the pre-recession levels.

Ref C goes too far, asks for too much, and fails to address the real problem.

Donald E. L. Johnson

It would be nice if Col. Pols gave us a search engine so we could link to previous threads and posts on this topic.

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce is dominated by contractors who would profit from more government spending. And that is why it has never opposed a construction project nor tax increase that would line the pockets of a few of its largest members. It's small members are fools for belonging to the lobbyists for those who are in business to make money off taxpayers. This is why I am not a member of the Metro Chamber nor of any other chamber of commerce. They don't represent small businesses, workers nor taxpayers.

To say that employers move to Colorado to take advantage of its educational establishment is a joke. The only decent schools in the state are the University of Denver and Colorado College, which are both private. The public k-12 schools are no better nor worse than schools in other states for a simple reason. Schools are as good as their raw materials, the kids who enter their doors and the parents who send the kids to school. The colleges similarly are no better than public colleges in other states and for the same reasons. It's all about demographics, and it's not about funding.

Thus, TABOR is not hurting education in Colorado, and the huge tax increases that referendums C and D would impose would not help improve the quality of the state's educational institutions at all.

As noted in previous threads and posts that discussed TABOR, this fight is all about enriching contractors, teachers and the political class that would win new powers if TABOR were weakened. I hear polls show C and D are losing big time, as they should.


I think we are losing sight of the fact that, whether it's "good" for the state by one self-serving measure or not, REF C IS A TAX GRAB FROM WHICH WE WILL NEVER RETURN. Libs love to spend money; the problem is the disgusting "moderate" backstabbers in the GOP do too.
Let's make sure the following in the GOP pay in their political futures for voting to ROB TAXPAYERS:
Witwer, Sullivan, Hall, Hoppe, Berens, McCluskey, White, Rose, Larson, and Massey

With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats??


The facts are the reason the state budget is larger than eight years ago is because people reproduce, more people move here and thus more government services are needed. This isn't a difficult concept. Unless you want to start deporting people from our state or putting limit on the number of children people can have then the budget will grow ever year.

Donald - TABOR is hurting higher education in Colorado and some Republicans just want to stand by and bitch, piss and moan as we are the first state in the union to defund higher education. That is really what is at issue here, certain Republicans like Donald are content with us not having public higher education in our state. I guess in Donald’s world if you are bright young person in this state and can't afford the 20 thousand a year to go to Denver University then tough; here is your Wal-Mart greeter uniform and shut up.

The previous generation made a commitment to things like higher education that allows everyone the chance to live the American dream but you guys could really care less if our state continues to provide that kind of opportunity. You have got yours and hell with everyone else.

When are we going to be making the basic investments in the next generation to make our state and country number one? That is what this is, an investment in our state. Our country and state didn’t just magically get this way. The fight about Ref. C and D is about what kind of world we want to leave our children, plain and simple.

free markets

So, you prefer to completely ignore the ridiculous spending situation where the majority of the budget is non-discretionary? You prefer not to reform a situation where only one department, higher ed, is forced to absorb every dime of cuts?

Donald E. L. Johnson

I'd be sympathetic to increased spending on higher education if I thought it was producing graduates who are employable and that the universities weren't wasting a lot of money on "fun" courses and teaching political correctness.

The thing the educators don't get is that if you offend your customers, they won't come back and buy again. Millions of us are totally offended by the childish, arrogant and intellectually unethical educators who dominate our institutions of higher living. We're offended by bloated sports programs that teach cheating by example and contribute nothing to the society at large. We're tired of funding the minor league sports teams for the free loading major leagues. And we're tired of funding teaching assistants who can't speak English and the research professors who are more interested in getting grants than in producing meaningful research or teaching.

There is nothing to admire about Colorado's schools of higher education these days. Almost everything I see, and I watch fairly closely, is discouraging. Yes, there are some good programs at CU and the other schools, but their good works are being overwhelmed by the bad departments. And the university administrators have no interest in funding the various departments based on merit.

Like entitlement programs, it seems that once a program is started, it lives forever.

We should be glad that Colorado is the first state to defund higher education, if that's true. Hope many states follow our fine example.

If Colorado's educators want more funding, they have to produce better services and products. They have to show academic integrity and academic achievement, and they should de-emphasize all sports programs. Most important, they should concentrate on producing graduates who can read, write, compute and make good livings.

We don't need to pay for the Harvard of the West, because any kid who can get into an Ivy League school will go to one of them, not to a public university or college in Colorado. Focus on your market, work for your students and parents instead of for your faculty and football crazy alumni and you'll find a lot of public support in Colorado.

Whining will get you nowhere; producing will.


What about all the research that is produced at those worthless higher education institutes?

You know what Donald, I happen to think Technical Journalism happens to be one of those “fun” majors and you got it from that evil University of Colorado, Denver where the tuition is or was subsidized with our tax dollars. You got a nice free ride using the investment of previous generations and now you want to take that opportunity away from others.

I got a Business degree from Colorado State and I got a job and now I am paying taxes and I am not leaching off the system but none of that would have happened in your world because my Mom was a housekeeper and my Dad was a mechanic and they couldn't afford to send me to Denver University. I am glad that the taxpayers of Colorado helped me become what I am today and I don't mind digging that whooping 23 dollar refund I got out of my pocket last year to let the next generation enjoy the American dream that I am living now.

What bothers me most about you and the likes of the independence institute is they are nowhere to found all last session when Republicans couldn’t figure out a proposal to fix our budget crisis in Colorado. Republicans like you had all last session to figure out a solution more to your liking and you couldn't, you didn't get it done and as you so obviously pointed out, results matter. Well the Republicans didn't put anything together so the Democrats had to work out a compromise that an awful lot of people think is a good solution and all you want to do is complain and complain but when it was your turn you didn’t get it done. Donald, you and Republicans like you maybe should take a deep long look in the mirror before starting to lecture other people about producing results.

Phoenix Rising

1) If we only increase spending to match growth and per-capita spending, we do not account for the disproportionate increases in Medicaid and other costs; these services have skyrocketed in the private and government sectors alike out of all proportion to overall inflation. Government does not participate in the overall economy - it deals with a limited number of services; most of those services are exceeding inflation levels by double-digits in both the private and government markets.

2) I never said that TABOR forced companies to close; I said that TABOR gave companies a reason to choose their Colorado facilities to close over those in other states with more favorable business climates. Do you have kids? If you do, what is one of the primary factors you have in purchasing a home? Answer: the school system. At the time of the bust, our state was almost dead last in educational funding, which is a good determinant of future (current?) educational quality. Businesses want to attract employees, and a poor educational system isn't a selling point. Businesses also like good transportation infrastructure; with its backlog of transportation needs and lack of available funding, Colorado doesn't look like a good bet. And whether we rate CU in the top 10 schools in the country or not (football or academically), it is nonetheless the school of affordability and choice for a large number of Coloradoans - yet another factor when choosing where to locate a business.

3) Amendment 23 was passed just ~4 years ago. By the popular vote of the people. To counter-act the astonishing lack of funding for K-12 education brought on by TABOR and the GOP. The people don't want it repealed; to them, it's not part of the problem, it's part of the solution. (And, IIRC, a ruling this year says that Amendment 23 funds are outside of TABOR limits, making the whole Amdt. 23 issue a red herring.)

4) I'm glad "the people" all know that our school's infrastructure problems are imaginary. That's why the state settled that darned lawsuit forcing us to spend money to repair buildings that don't meet code, I guess. That's why Ref. D allocates $50 million to pay for those repairs. But you knew that, right, RUSERIOUS?

5) Non-discretionary spending is largely controlled by one of three factors: external requirements, constitutional provisions, and minimum requirements. No, I don't think the public wants to address the constutional direction of lottery funds, or the minimum standards required of our court system. The (Republican) governor has refused to touch prison spending, and vetoed a preferred drug bill that would have saved millions. Would proponents of Ref. C and D like to address broader issues? Many of them would, but you get the government you can compromise upon, not the one you'd like to have.

6) We've cut the fat from government; sure, there's still a bit to be had, but it's not like we're going to be able to squeeze another $300m out of the pot next year. Both the GOP and Dem leadership have resorted to one-time tactics and clever TABOR exemption moves to keep the government going. Those don't work forever, and we've hit that point. Ref. C is what the TABOR proponents promoted when they sold us the bill of goods in 1992 - a taxpayer-approved adjustment to be approved when the need arises, that keeps TABOR intact. There's just no pleasing some people.


"Government does not participate in the overall economy"

Are you claiming that gov't has no impact on any economy in any way, shape, or form?

Phoenix Rising

Are you claiming that gov't has no impact on any economy in any way, shape, or form?

No, I'm just stating the obvious: the government's main expenditures are not the same as yours and mine. They don't buy a lot of food, don't buy as many clothes, or DVDs, or go to movies. In other words, their economy isn't the same as ours. Yet TABOR judges them by our overall inflation, not their inflation adjusted for their particular economic focus.

Oh, BTW: I am not Andrew Romanoff - I'm not that pretty. I've listened to approximately three of his speeches (including last night), only one of them having much to do with government spending - surprise, surprise!

Charlie Green

I think we're all in agreement that taxpayer subsidized education just creates unruly workers. Only those born to be leaders by virtue of having money for tuition/ private schools should get schooling.

More to the point: where is the actual text of the referenda so those us not in need of "explanations" (i.e.; privately and well educated) can read the thing we're gonna be voting on (assuming the liberals don't mess with the voting machines)?

Donald E. L. Johnson

Why are the anti-tabor folks so emotional? No facts? Know you're going to lose? What's with the name calling? Does it make you look really smart and honest, or what?

I received my BS and MBA degrees outside of Colorado. I have not sent kids to Colorado schools, and I support public education of all kinds. I also support educational institutions that use money like it's their own and give kids a chance to obtain real educations. The problem with public education is that the board members don't do their jobs. They don't manage budgets, hire smart managers or work for voters as well as teachers and parents. That's democracy for you. Imperfect but better than any alternatives, including judges who would be dictators to school systems.

Phoenix Rising

Which of my statements was overly emotional here, Donald? I'm just pointing out the facts.

If you want to talk about emotional, let's talk about the tone of the Independence Institute ad.


I am emotional because it bothers me that people like you want to take the American dream away from others. You want to drown the very society that has helped you succeed. You want to pull the ladders up for the next generation. That is why I am emotional.

Donald I think I misunderstood your bio - http://www.businessword.com/index.php/member/4/

And Donald are you saying you received your education from a private university?

Phoenix Rising

Sorry, marshall - my point was that you and I were pretty much the only two active "anti-TABOR" folks in this topic, and only one of us was working on emotion. I'm emotional about it, too, but I chose to use my emotion in other threads last night. :)

Donald E. L. Johnson

To say that pro-TABOR people want to deny educational opportunities to anyone is not true and is emotional sloganeering. What we believe is that good educations can be provided by publicly-funded schools at reasonable costs without inflating tuition and burning taxpayers.

Except for my MBA, I was educated in public schools. But I've received my real education in the school of hard knocks where I try to learn something every day.

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