Budget study panelist says Amendment 23, TABOR dangerous

Amendment 23, which promised to bump up funding of public education in Colorado, needs to go, as does much of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a panel of Coloradans studying state issues concluded.

“Colorado has about 12 years to get its house in order,” and those changes are part of doing so, Phil Vaughan of Rulison told the spring meeting of Club 20 on Saturday at Two Rivers Convention Center. “I’m afraid the long knives come out 12 years from now.”

Vaughan served on a University of Denver panel studying strategic issues facing Colorado state government.

Amendment 23 “should just go away,” Vaughan said.

The amendment, approved by voters in 2000, was intended to reverse budget cuts of the previous decade.

The practical result is that kindergarten though 12th-grade education has “cannibalized” higher education, Vaughan said.

TABOR’s requirement that voters approve tax increases should remain intact in the state constitution, but the rest of it, especially the “ratchet effect” that prevents government revenue from catching up after economic slowdowns, needs to go, Vaughan said.

Without such structural changes, the state budget eventually will be gobbled up by K-12 education, corrections and Medicaid, leaving nothing for other state services, such as transportation, Vaughan said.

Medicaid, meanwhile, which now serves 600,000 Coloradans, “is the next train wreck,” projected to take up 27 percent of state spending by 2025, up from 18 percent now, Vaughan said.

Members of the panel are discussing the findings around the state, he said.


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