Gaslighting Colorado Voters with TABOR Refunds

By Michael Fields

Don’t be fooled when your Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) refund check hits your mailbox later this month, remember Democrats tried to take them away back in 2019. Now, Governor Polis and Democratic lawmakers renamed the refund the “Colorado Cash Back” – and want you to think it’s some kind of gift from them. But really, this is just an election year gimmick to try to get your vote.

Believe it or not, repealing TABOR is still at the top of Colorado Democrats policy platform so call it what you will. Some call it political spin, Axios called it “gaslighting,” and Kyle Clark from 9NEWS warned no one should fall for Governor Polis’ attempt to rebrand TABOR refunds as “Colorado Cash Back.”  

Colorado voters spoke loud and clear when they rejected Prop CC back in 2019 when Democratic lawmakers tried to gut TABOR refunds for good. It failed then, and if brought to a vote today, it would fail again. Does Governor Polis think Colorado voters have short memories? He not only supported Prop CC, he campaigned for it. 

Pollsters will tell you that TABOR is very popular and polls very high among all Colorado voters. The reason everyone likes it is because it does two simple things –– it allows us to vote on any tax increase, and it limits the growth of government to inflation combined with population growth. There is also a rebate required under TABOR that requires any surplus to go back to taxpayers. 

This rebate is the $750 check for individual filers and the $1500 check for joint filers that will be coming in the mail with a nice “Colorado Cash Back” logo attached. We should celebrate this money going back to Coloradans because everyone is feeling the pinch of high inflation, high gas prices, and high taxes and fees. But we should be honest about the fact that Republicans have defended TABOR and Democrats have attacked it.  

Not only are Democrats trying to claim credit for something they have been loathe to support over the years, they’re also running up the bill for Colorado taxpayers at the same time. In changing the rules so you will receive your check before election day –– the Department of Revenue suggests checks are expected to arrive by September 30 –– it is costing the state an additional $2.7 million. We shouldn’t have to pay a penalty for Democrats’ election mongering. 

One of the intended goals of TABOR was to limit the size and growth of the state’s government. This is the primary reason Democrats don’t like TABOR to begin with. And even with TABOR, our government has grown by over $6 billion in the last 4 years. Government coffers are flush, while inflation is outpacing wage growth.

If Democrats are genuinely having a change of heart and now want to celebrate TABOR, I for one welcome them to the party. But I’m afraid this is much more about their hope a check in the mail is a vote for the Democratic party come November. 

It’s a safe bet to say that Democrats will try to again repeal TABOR after the election. But I think Colorado voters are smart enough to see this for what it is. They will cash their check, put their hard earned money into their wallet and step into the voting booth in November and vote their conscience like Colorado voters always do.  

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About the Author:

Michael Fields is the President of Advance Colorado Institute.