FILE - Colorado lawmakers discuss TABOR refund bill

Colorado Republican Sen. Kevin Priola, left, Democratic House Speaker KC Becker, center, and Democratic Sen. Lois Court discuss a proposed ballot initiative to let the state keep excess tax revenue in Denver on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

A coalition has formed in opposition to a ballot proposal that will ask voters to allow state government to keep excess revenues normally refunded to taxpayers. 

The coalition will be called “No on CC,” and includes elected officials, former officials and various groups.

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights guarantees that taxpayers be refunded if the state collects excess revenue.

The state legislature passed a bill last session asking voters to allow state government to permanently keep the funds that would otherwise be given back to taxpayers. An accompanying bill was passed and signed by Gov. Jared Polis that would allocate the kept funds to K-12 education, higher education, and transportation. 

The ballot measure was given the name Proposition CC last month by the Secretary of State’s office.

The opposition coalition is chaired by former state treasurers Walker Stapleton and Mark Hillman, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, and Heidi Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent. The coalition’s advisory board includes former Republican Gov. Bill Owens, former Republican U.S. Sen. Hank Brown, Republican Congressman Ken Buck, Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, and Colorado state Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley.

Owens, who notably supported Referendum C as governor in 2005, said in a statement he opposes the ballot proposal to permanently end the refunds. Referendum C, which was approved by voters, allowed for a five-year pause in TABOR refunds. 

“Having served as governor when Referendum C passed in 2005, I understand the difference between short-term adjustments during funding crises and permanent blank checks that the state government too often wishes it could write itself,” Owens said. “Proposition CC is the latter, and for the sake of future generations of Colorado taxpayers, I urge voters to reject it in November.”

Ganahl said in the same statement: “Proposition CC will do nothing to lower tuition or provide long-term support for our public universities.”

“While proponents will promise voters that it will solve our higher education funding issues, there are no guarantees in the measure,” she added. “It simply creates a slush fund that future politicians in the legislature can spend however they like – and in return voters are expected to permanently give away their refunds.”

Conservative advocacy group Colorado Rising Action is also part of the coalition. 

“Make no mistake – Prop. CC is not only a tax increase, but also a permanent blank check to the legislature,” said Executive Director Michael Fields. “There’s already a strong grassroots effort with leaders from across Colorado with energy to defeat Prop. CC and defend the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.” 

The “No on CC” issues committee was filed on May 28 with the Secretary of State’s Office. Amy Oliver Cooke, executive vice president of the Independence Institute and the wife of Sen. Cooke, is listed as the group’s registered agent.

Regional Editor

Derek Draplin is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as an opinion producer at Forbes, and as a reporter at Michigan Capitol Confidential and The Detroit News. He’s also an editor at The Daily Caller.