The Denver Post reported that "[o]pponents" of a proposed ballot measure to cap state revenues “say it would force the state to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from transportation and construction projects.” In fact, the state treasurer's office made the claim, not simply “opponents” of Initiative 88.
In an August 3 article discussing gubernatorial candidate Rep. Bob Beauprez's (R-Arvada) support of a proposed ballot measure to cap state revenues, Denver Post staff writer Chris Frates reported that "[o]pponents of that measure, Initiative 88, say it would force the state to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from transportation and construction projects that Referendum C was trying to restore." In fact, it is the state treasurer's office, not simply “opponents” of Initiative 88, that says the measure could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to various state projects.
In 2005, Colorado voters approved Referendum C, which allows the state to retain and spend all revenues for five years. Initiative 88, which is backed by Independence Institute president and Newsradio 850 KOA host Jon Caldara, is a proposed ballot measure that would cap Referendum C revenues at $3.7 billion. The measure would return any revenues above $3.7 billion to taxpayers “in order to offset home energy costs.”
The Post itself has previously reported that the state treasurer's office -- specifically, Republican state treasurer Mike Coffman -- has expressed the concern Frates attributed only to Initiative 88's “opponents.” A May 30 Post article reported, “The Colorado treasurer's office is warning that a proposed ballot measure to return some Referendum C money to taxpayers could blast a multimillion-dollar hole in the state budget.” The Post explained:
The treasurer's problem: The HEAT proposal [Initiative 88] calls for returning money that the state already will have spent on roads, schools and other programs.
“It's going back to take money that's already been spent,” said Ben Stein, deputy state treasurer. “That's problematic.”
The proposal could force the state to carve as much as $400 million out of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 state budgets.
The proposal would immediately cut funding to state programs and to roads and in the long term would shift funding from schools, prisons, higher education and other programs to roads and building construction.
The Post article added, “Despite the problems, Treasurer Mike Coffman, who opposed Referendum C, isn't willing to cast the HEAT proposal aside.” The Post quoted Coffman as saying, “I like the concept of what the proponents are trying to do, and I'll see if there are any options that might make this work. ... I just wish this proposal would have been better written.”
Similarly, in a July 5 editorial criticizing Beauprez's support for Initiative 88, the Post wrote, “While Caldara claims the new limits would cap additional state revenue at $3.7 billion over five years, Republican state Treasurer Mike Coffman says it has a 'glitch' that would actually force $400 million to be cut from next year's budget.”
From Frates's August 2 Denver Post article, “Beauprez begins statewide swing” :
He [Beauprez] upset many business leaders and others last year by joining Holtzman's opposition to Referendum C, which allowed the state to keep an estimated $4.9 billion in tax refunds over five years.
Beauprez further exacerbated that split earlier this year by signing a proposed ballot measure that would send some of that Referendum C money back to taxpayers.
Opponents of that measure, Initiative 88, say it would force the state to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from transportation and construction projects that Referendum C was trying to restore.