Release: September 30, 2005
Sen. Randy Brogdon
‘TABOR’ Amendment Good for Oklahoma Taxpayers
GUEST EDITORIAL - More than two-thirds of Oklahoma
taxpayers approve of holding the growth of state government to
a reasonable level. Unfortunately, the other one-third –
those who do not embrace responsible growth – are beginning
to panic because of the TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) initiative.
A natural impulse in a panic situation is to huddle in a defensive
posture and try to protect your own at all cost. Such is the case
with many tax-receiving groups around the state. There is an all-out
effort with by big spenders to stifle good public policy by portraying
a dishonest view of very good legislation.
You will hear from the opponents of TABOR that
this legislation is “just like the one in Colorado”
which has “wreaked havoc” in education, health care,
and the entire state budget. Those who espouse such a notion are
either being disingenuous or just ignorant of the facts. In either
case I want to present the facts on this very important matter
and ask you to judge for yourself.
The main point of TABOR is to limit the growth
of government from one year to the next based on the combined
total of inflation and population increase (“Popflation”).
According to economists, think tanks, editorial boards, and taxpayers
around the state, this is a fair and reasonable approach to help
control the growth of government. There are very few politicians
who will show restraint and self control when it comes to spending
your money. That was evidenced again this year when the legislature
increased spending at a whopping twelve percent, while Popflation
grew at only three percent. Recently the Wall Street Journal reported
that “TABOR gives government an incentive to take on self-correcting
tasks that aren't in its nature.” The guardrails set in
place by TABOR would give Oklahomans the power to rein in out-of-control
spending and help ensure an indispensable prioritized budget.
It has been falsely editorialized that TABOR is
a failure in Colorado and is responsible for destroying their
state budget and has decreased funding for higher education. Once
again, the facts tell quite a different story. The University
of Colorado president led the charge to allow the colleges to
be a part of an enterprise zone which issues funding vouchers
to students instead of direct subsidies to the universities. This
has been wildly popular with students as well as the parents who
are paying for their child’s education.
As for TABOR being responsible for the budget woes,
nothing could be further from the truth. In the decade before
TABOR, personal income hardly grew, government added more jobs
than the private sector, and zero dollars were refunded to taxpayers.
In the last ten years since TABOR has been implemented, the Colorado
budget has grown at a Popflation rate of 63% and yet taxpayers
have received rebates of over 3.4 billion dollars. The $3.4 billion
was reinvested into the private sector economy which increased
personal income and constrained government growth. During this
period of time, Colorado had the most robust and fastest growing
economy in the entire nation. Between 1995 and 2000, Colorado
ranked first in the nation in the growth of gross state product
and second in the nation in personal income growth. That hardly
sounds like a failed policy to me.
Although there have been two measures in the last
10 years to weaken TABOR, they have both been soundly defeated
by the taxpayers. This year, the tax-and-spend crowd are once
again trying to repeal TABOR in Colorado. All indications point
to another defeat for the big spenders and a victory for the taxpayers.
It all boils down to this: We can either protect
the old ways of Oklahoma politics or change the way we do business.
It was reported in a local newspaper that “Oklahoma drags
the bottom of the 50 states in almost any category.” I believe
it is time for a change. Oklahomans have a chance to increase
their personal income, reduce government spending, and expand
the economy by passing The TABOR Amendment. How bad are we going
to let things get before we say enough is enough? It’s time