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Press Release

FreedomWorks Responds to Letter from Colorado Gov. Bill Owens

FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe sent the following letter to Colorado Governor Bill Owens today:

Bill Owens
136 State Capitol Building
Denver, Colorado 80203

Dear Governor Owens:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding the Referendum C tax hike. On behalf of 8,000 FreedomWorks members in Colorado, and the taxpayer rights movement nationwide, I would like to take this opportunity to respond.

Facts, Not Fear

You could not have chosen a better book title to reference when you mentioned Facts, Not Fear. The multi-million dollar fear campaign the pro-Ref C camp has launched against the taxpayers has made it difficult for those working for the taxpayers to get the facts out.

As we both know, it is common practice for those trying to raise taxes to scare the voters into thinking essential services would be cut if taxes were not raised. Your colleagues know they can’t pass a tax hike saying: “government waste will get cut if Ref C doesn’t pass.” I’m sorry to see that you are echoing this message, sounding like liberal hysteria, when you suggest that there is no more fat to cut.

As you know only too well, between 2001 and 2006, the state gave more than $1.4 million to wealthy cities like Vail and Telluride for art projects. Over the same period, the state also gave nearly $62 million to companies like Kodak, Adam Aircraft, and Red Robin restaurants. To support Ref C is to say you think it is more important for these projects to be funded than for a mother to have some extra money to buy a winter coat for her daughter. With that, I cannot agree, and must oppose Ref C.

A Tax Hike

I also take issue with your claim that Ref C is not a tax hike, an argument of which Ref C proponents have spent their considerable resources, unsuccessfully trying to convince voters. I will assume, as a reasonable person, you will agree that a tax increase is any change to the law that results in more taxes being paid than is required under current law.

Ref C would change the law to result in more taxes being paid than is required under current law. That's a tax increase, no matter how much political spin supporters try to put on it. And with a price tag of over $3.7 billion, it is the largest tax increase in state history.

And, while I applaud you for the spending restraint your administration previously exhibited, I take issue with the image your letter tries to create of a state budget cut to the bone. The truth is that there is no year in recent history in which the state spent less than the year before, not even during the recession, as your own state treasurer in May pointed out saying, "total state spending never actually decreased in any year of the recession."

Opening the Spending Floodgates

In your letter, you also say, “One of the biggest canards being used to scare Coloradans…is that the budget referenda would break open the spending floodgates.”

Unfortunately, your argument fails to show how giving a gigantic blank check to the state legislature will not result in this. You use the example of a family budget at one point in the letter. I will do the same to show how the passage of the $3.7 billion Ref C tax increase to fill a predicted $1.2 billion deficit would indeed break open the spending floodgates.

Consider a family budget. A family is responsible and restrained with its money, but one day a $3.7 billion check arrives in the mail. They owe $1.2 billion on their credit cards. They pay that and are left with $2.5 billion to spend on whatever they want. The family’s spending floodgates break open, much like Colorado government’s will when they have $2.5 billion left to spend after meeting all future predicted shortfalls.

Unfortunately, the real-world family story is that the $3.7 billion Ref C tax increase amounts to a $771 tax increase for a family of four each year. That is real money that working families need.

Summing Up

Coloradan Paul T. Prentice, Ph.D. President Farm Sector Economics, Inc., summed up the debate over the Ref. C tax increase the best when he said, “Whose money is it anyway? It’s ours, the taxpayers’. The politicians say that if we spend it, it will hurt the economy, but if they spend it, it will help the economy. That’s nonsense.”


Matt Kibbe
President and CEO