State Tax News: TABOR Gets Trounced in 2009

TABOR Gets Trounced in 2009

By Karen Kraut, Coordinator, Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative

Voters in Maine and Washington state in November soundly rejected a ballot initiative that is central to the right wing’s anti-tax, anti-government agenda.

The policy, known deceptively as TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights), seeks to hamstring state and local government’s ability to maintain and invest in the quality public services residents need and want.

Colorado was the first to adopt a TABOR constitutional amendment in 1992. TABOR’s tax and spending limits greatly contributed to significant deterioration of public services. Between 1992 and 2001, Colorado’s K-12 spending as a share of personal income went from ranking 35th to 49th in the nation. Colorado’s problems were so severe that, in 2005, voters temporarily repealed TABOR [see this brief] to restore the state’s weakened public services and infrastructure. Colorado became the poster child for campaigns against TABOR.

Despite the destructive consequences of TABOR, anti-tax activists have attempted to export this failed policy [see p. 3 of this report] to other states throughout the nation over the last many years. However, through rigorous education and organizing, progressive coalitions have defeated TABOR, in increasing percentages. In the process, they deepened people’s understanding of the essential role government and taxation play in supporting the common good and the public services we so highly value.


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