Paul Epley: Oh, what a tangled web we weave

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As students, most of us learned the saying by Sir Walter Scott:

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave,

When first we practice to deceive!"

Apparently, our governor and many of our legislators were absent on the day this was taught.

Referendums C and D are based on a web of deceit and should be defeated by the voters. The referendums are promoted on the premise that they are not a tax increase. Proponents of C and D have told us that C and D are a bipartisan solution to a "budget crisis" brought on by "the recession." Each of these elements is patently false.

Referendums C and D would result in the largest tax increase in Colorado state history and would allow the state to confiscate your tax refunds for the next five years. These refunds have been estimated from $3.1 billion to $10 billion dollars or between $3,100 and $10,000 per family of four. It's a tax increase, pure and simple. To suggest they are not a tax increase is a disingenuous falsehood.

The referendums are not bipartisan. C and D were supported by a small minority of the Republican members of the House and Senate. Sixty of the 64 Republican county chairmen are adamantly against the referendums. Bob Beauprez, Marc Holtzman and Scott McInnis, probable leading GOP candidates for governor next year, all oppose C and D. So do House Minority Leader Joe Stengel, former House Majority Leader Lola Spadley and former Senate President John Andrews. Support is anything but bipartisan.

There is no state budget crisis. The state budget is at an all-time high. Last year, it increased to $15.2 billion -- an increase of more than $1 billion, or 7 percent -- and includes new positions. Belt-tightening and fiscal responsibility are foreign concepts to this Legislature. Referendums C and D would raise more than seven times the claimed "shortfall," and there is no guarantee these funds would be expended as advertised!

Even without the passage of C and D, the Colorado Legislative Council, an official arm of the General Assembly, projects the moneys available for the general fund for annual discretionary spending would increase by more than $1.5 billion in the next five years. This is an increase of more than 26 percent. For the tax and spenders, this is not enough. The threatened drastic cuts need to be addressed to the Legislature, not the taxpayer!

The state's general fund has decreased in only two fiscal years, 2001-02 and 2002-03, since the enactment of Taxpayers Bill of Rights, and these decreases were fairly modest (less than $200 million). They bear no relationship to the massive level of tax increase that is proposed. Referendum C will generate many billions more in taxes during the following years as it permanently increases the base for expenditure limitations under TABOR. Referendum C would permanently and significantly increase the size of state government and your tax bill.

Referendums C and D are simply a disguised effort to permanently kill TABOR. The proponents of C know that when the five-year refund moratorium that results from Referendum C expires, it will be impossible to return to the TABOR refund program. Too many new bloated spending programs with their new positions and across-the-board salary increases will have been established in stone. Referendum C will launch Colorado on the same government spending spree that has resulted in the fiscal crisis in California.

From the time of the pharoahs, governments have periodically attempted to tax themselves into prosperity. This theory never has worked and never will work. Higher taxes hurt businesses and individuals. Wealth and prosperity are created by the private sector -- not the government. The next time the "tax and spend" crowd holds a rally in support of C and D, ask yourself: Why are people clapping and cheering for the largest tax hike in Colorado history? Why do they support removing caps on spending and the abrogation of accountability? Could it be they draw their livelihood from entities that are firmly attached to the taxpayers' teat? Or are they being blackmailed into supporting these abominable referendums with the threat of cuts to vital services, while waste continues to run rampant?

Don't Californicate Colorado. Vote "no" on Referendums C and D.

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