It has been said, “Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.” That comment is fitting considering the hoopla surrounding Tuesday’s humiliating defeat of Colorado’s Proposition CC. It was a tremendous victory for our Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights and for all Coloradans. Everyone from think tanks to retired politicians to talk-show hosts are receiving (and sometimes claiming) credit for the results on CC. The true story is much longer and more interesting.
Proposition CC began its journey to the voting booth as House Bill 1257. Speaker KC Becker (Democrat, Boulder) introduced the bill in Colorado’s House of Representatives on March 20. House Democrats were in the midst of passing the most radical legislative agenda the state has seen.
A slew of controversial bills like state-dictated sex education curriculum, overturning the Electoral College, making Colorado a ‘sanctuary state’, and draconian restrictions on the development of our natural resources were forced through the legislative process with exclusively Democrat support.
As the House prepared to tackle the annual budget, Speaker Becker approached me with big news. Democrats were intent on taking away Colorado taxpayers’ future tax refunds, an established feature of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. She expressed surprise at my response: I said we were determined to fight it, and our Republican House members stood firmly against it.
The bill came to the House Floor on April 8. Various special interest groups (Chambers-of-Commerce, education-related, and progressive special interests) had announced their support for the speaker’s bill. Many of these groups approached our members hoping to entice them to ‘moderate’ their views. During the floor debate, Republicans spoke at length in opposition to the bill, pointing out (among other things) that the state’s General Fund revenues had increased 27% over the past five years, though population had grown by only 5.8%. We had plenty of money to fund the need for better education and better roads (we’d been making this point for years!). Our House members offered over a half-dozen amendments, each designed to clarify the misleading language of the bill. Each amendment died at the hands of the Democrat majority. The bill would become Proposition CC.
In early summer, there was speculation that the governor might call a special session. Certain business leaders approached Republican leadership again to offer a modest reduction of the state income tax rate to three one-hundredths of 1% (0.03%) in exchange for keeping hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds that Coloradans would receive over the next 10 years.
They suggested that if we took this deal, Democrats would withdraw CC from the ballot (unprecedented and arguably unconstitutional). Democrats knew at the time CC was unlikely to pass. This was a desperate move to get as much of our money as they could. The House Republican Caucus stood together and said, “No thank you.”
In my role as minority leader, I marvel at the incestuous political relationship between progressive lawmakers and the ‘education-media-special interest elite.’ They support politicians and in turn — surprise, surprise — receive enormous amounts of taxpayer money. I ask myself, “Who will stand up for the little guy? Who will stand up for the average taxpayer?” Time and again, the answer has been conservative Republicans.
Throughout the summer, elected Republican House members took their message to the voters. In town meetings, civic club speeches and a host of other venues; they were the vanguard of the ‘save our Taxpayer Bill of Rights’ movement. To be sure, they had allies among certain groups such as Colorado Rising Action, the Independence Institute and Americans for Prosperity.
Yet it was the unity displayed first by Republican House members, then others, that pushed the Democrat dream of a California-like Colorado down the road. But the fight is far from over.
When I look at Washington, I can’t help but think they might adopt a page from our book.
The partisan effort to impeach the president is as misguided as it is vicious. It’s always best to take a principled, and public, stand and say, “Hell no!”
Once voters can hear our unified voice above the din of an angry and irrational bunch of sore-losers, they will join us. They’ll begin to recognize we stand for important and timeless American principles.
House Republicans say thank you to all who made the defeat of CC a reality, including those privileged enough to have a public voice. But most of all, we say thank you to the sensible moms, dads, sons and daughters who realized the better Colorado they dream of is a step closer because they said “NO” on CC.
If we work together, we can return Colorado to our heritage of individual liberty that always made us among the best places to live in the country.
Rep. Patrick Neville is House minority leader in the Colorado Legislature.