BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
The Arapahoe County Republican Breakfast Club (ACRBC) and its president, Myron Spanier, welcomed their largest crowd in recent memory to Maggiano’s DTC on October 2. The announced speaker was 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler.
After acknowledging that Republicans “have seen a true ‘bluing’ of Arapahoe County,” Brauchler launched an attack of statewide Proposition CC, which he described as “the first probing of the defense of TABOR” (the Taxpayer Bill of Rights passed in 1992 to prevent legislators from raising taxes without voters’ approval).
According to the Denver Post, those for and against passage of Proposition CC are not all relying on the same numbers, making it challenging for voters to sort out. The Post says, if Prop CC passes, “the governor’s office is projecting refunds totaling $1.7 billion in the next three fiscal years. Legislative economists, however, predict it will be closer to $542 million — a difference of more than $1 billion.” If Prop CC fails, those numbers translate to individual state income tax refunds of anywhere from $20 per person to $248 per person over the next three years.
All agree that, if it passes, even using the most optimistic estimates, the amount of additional money that will be available for the designated purposes of K-12 education, college education, and transportation needs won’t come close to solving their funding shortfalls.
Brauchler didn’t focus on the numbers. His concern was TABOR. He told the ACRBC that “if we don’t defeat (Prop) CC, TABOR will be looking at a repeal in 2022 or maybe even 2020.” He went on to describe Colorado’s strong economy since TABOR passed and said that, even with its limitations on increased taxes in place, state government has grown 300 percent while the population has grown 60 percent.
The DA pointed out that when a similar measure was approved by voters in 2005 that created a five-year time out for TABOR refunds, similar to what is being proposed by Prop CC, other than the important difference that CC does not have an end date, legislators used the extra funds to replace regular budget dollars that they moved elsewhere, resulting in no significant funding increases in the designated areas of K-12 education, college education and health care. The Post explains that by pointing out that the earlier measure “followed the economic slowdown of the early 2000s and was in effect during the onset of the Great Recession, when lawmakers were trying to hold off across-the-board cuts to programs.”
In the end, the Denver Post Editorial Board, like Brauchler, recommended against voting for Proposition CC.
Editors there said that although they liked some aspects of the plan, they found it “fatally flawed” because the money would be allocated by the legislature separately from the regular formulas used for the designated purposes (e.g., K-12 money would go to all public schools on a per-pupil basis, regardless of whether a school district is located in an area that is flush or struggling) and that it has no sunset date.
Governor Polis is campaigning for the passage of Proposition CC. It is also supported by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Contractors’ Association, the Colorado Municipal League, and the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG).
Standing with Brauchler in opposition are the Independence Institute, Americans for Prosperity, CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, former Gov. Bill Owens, former U.S. Senator Hank Brown, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, state Rep. Patrick Neville, and former state treasurer and candidate for governor Walker Stapleton.
Brauchler is term-limited, thus cannot run for re-election as 18th Judicial District Attorney when his tenure ends in November, 2020. He told the crowd that he hopes to continue his public service in some capacity.
In the crowd at the ACRBC were current elected officials Nancy Sharpe, Kathy Turley, Rod Bockenfeld, Dave Gruber, Bob Roth, and Heidi Ganahl. Roth is also a candidate for re-election in Aurora. Candidates for election in the crowd included John Kellner (for 18th Judicial District DA), Steve House (for CD6) and Richard Holt (for Centennial city council). Even local talk radio host Craig Silverman made a rare appearance to hear what Brauchler had to say.
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