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As the battle over Referendum C—- the Pickpocket Amendment—- heats up, it is important to remember the most important fact surrounding the issue: Referendum C is an attempt by politicians to keep an estimated $3.1 billion that would otherwise be refunded to the taxpayers. That’s $3.1 billion that the taxpayers have a right to under current law, but which the government would take if Ref C passes.
That’s why we’re calling it the Pickpocket Amendment.
The state’s politicians are hoping they can pick $3.1 billion from taxpayers’ pockets. There will most likely be a barrage of confusing and misleading ads to distract the taxpayers as the hoist is attempted.
However, when armed with the facts, voters will be less susceptible to the attack on their wallets that is being carefully planned.
1. Colorado has no budget shortfall this year.
2. It is estimated that Ref C, if victorious, will keep for the government $3.1 billion in money that is scheduled to be refunded to the taxpayers.
3. Although some claim that state spending has been cut by $1 billion in recent years, Colorado’s State Treasurer clearly states: “total state spending never actually decreased in any year of the recession.”
4. The General Fund accounts for only 42 percent of state spending—cash funds and federal funds make up the rest.
5. General Fund spending did drop from $5.59 billion in 2001-02 to $5.52 billion the next year, but the cash funds and federal funds more than made up the difference, preventing an actual decrease in spending. Over the next two years, general fund spending grew by about $300 million.
6. During the recent years of slower economic growth between 2001 and 2005, Medicaid’s general fund appropriation grew 16 percent.
7. During the recent years of slower economic growth between 2001 and 2005 K-12 education’s general fund appropriation grew by 12 percent. This increase was largely driven by Amendment 23 which mandates increased spending per pupil at the rate of inflation plus 1 percent, regardless of the state of the economy, or its impact on other state programs.
8. Education and Medicaid spending grew considerably, eating up funds other departments could have used, but 7 of the state’s 22 departments saw their budgets decrease between 2001-02.
9. The future budget "shortfall" Ref C supporters lament is not a real shortfall. Colorado's budget is allowed to grow as much as 6% a year—or from $5.9 billion in 2004-05 to $7.8 billion in 2009-10. Those claiming "shortfall" do so because it is predicted that by 2009-10 there will only be enough tax dollars for a $7.2 billion budget. They're complaining about only being able to increase government spending by $1.3 billion in the next 5 years.
10. Ref C is asking taxpayers to allow the state’s politicians to keep all the tax surplus refunds due to the taxpayers for the next five years, no matter how much greater than $3.1 billion that surplus is.
11. Usually, whenever $3.1 billion in taxpayer money is taken by the government, it is called a tax increase.
12. By supporting Ref. C, Governor Owens violates the pledge he signed with the Colorado Union of Taxpayers where he pledged "to support the refund of tax surpluses to the citizens of Colorado."
13. The 2005-06 budget for Colorado’s state government is the largest in state history, with $15.2 billion in appropriations. Under this budget, spending is up across the board.
14. The 2005-06 budget increases general fund spending by 4 percent
15. This year’s general fund’s biggest items are:
a. K-12 education, $2.7 billion, up 7.3 percent from last year.
b. Medicaid and health care, $1.38 billion, up 8.4 percent.
c. Higher education, $598 million, up 1.7 percent.
d. Corrections, $531 million, up 7.6 percent.
e. Human services, $499 million, up 3.8 percent.
16. These "big five" departments consume more than 92 percent of the general fund.
17. Colorado’s Senate is already passing bills to spend the extra money Ref C would bring in. Senate Bill 237, for example, is a bill that recently passed in the Senate calling for a new $15 million spending program if Ref C passes. Luckily, uproar over a supposedly broke government creating new spending programs has led to this bill being pulled.