Setting the Record Straight on Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Read the full report | As time draws closer for Mainers to pass the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (Question 4) on November 3, the rhetoric from the opponents grows more detached from reality. When discussing Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights, opponents use terms such as “devastating” to describe its impact on Colorado’s economy and government. However, an objective look at the data tells a much different story. Consider these facts:

• Between FY 1990 and FY 2008, Colorado’s personal income has tripled while population growth has grown by 49 percent. As a result, in 2008, Colorado had the 13th highest income per person in the country – $42,377 for every man, woman and child.

• Between FY 1992 and FY 2007, actual state government spending in Colorado nearly tripled. Whether measured on a per person or a percent of personal income basis, Colorado’s state government has most certainly not been “devastated.” A healthy, private sector economy is obviously good for government too.

• Colorado’s superior economic performance owes much to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which was the reason for the return of an estimated $6.7 billion returned to taxpayers between FY 1997 and FY 2007 via tax rebates and tax cuts.

• Helped by the tax rebates/cuts, Colorado has the 5th largest private sector share of personal income in the country (76.9 percent) in 2008. This is vitally important because there is a strong correlation between the size of a state’s private sector and the state’s overall economic well-being.

Unfortunately, Maine’s economic performance relative to Colorado has been anemic. The overall level and growth in Maine state government simply exceeds Mainer’s ability to pay. Enacting Maine’s own Taxpayer Bill of Rights (Question 4) is a necessary requirement if Maine is ever to enjoy the economic success and vitality that Colorado does today.