A who's who of current and former Republican elected officials have formed an issue committee to oppose Proposition CC on this fall's ballot.
That's the measure placed on the ballot by Democrats in the Colorado Legislature during this year's session to ask voters for permission to retain all surplus money the state collects over the revenue cap set by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
While Democrats say that's not a lot of money — it would be split evenly between transportation, public schools and higher education — the new GOP group, No on CC, argues that it would undermine the spirit of the TABOR amendment approved by voters in 1992, and prevent any future TABOR refunds to taxpayers.
"As someone who cares deeply about the future of higher education in Colorado, I know Proposition CC will do nothing to lower tuition or provide long-term support for our public universities," said Heidi Ganahl, University of Colorado regent- at-large and co-chair of the group. "While proponents will promise voters that it will solve our higher education funding issues, there are no guarantees in the measure. It simply creates a slush fund that future politicians in the Legislature can spend however they like."
Actually, the sponsors of the bill that placed the measure onto the ballot said it isn't intended to be a long-term fix to funding needs for those three programs. Additionally, a companion measure to the ballot question, HB1258, is explicit on where the money goes, including sending one-third of the transportation portion to counties and municipalities.
Still, Democrats have touted the proposal as a bipartisan one. Actually, only one Republican voted for it, Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson, who co-sponsored it with House Speaker KC Becker of Boulder, Rep. Julie McCluskie of Dillon and Sen. Lois Court of Denver, all Democrats.
The group includes several big names from the GOP ranks, including former Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, former state Treasurer Mark Hillman and 18th Judicial District Attorney and last year's candidate for Colorado attorney general George Brauchler. Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese also is serving on the group's advisory board.
Voters approved a similar ballot measure back in 2005, but that referendum only called for a five year time-out on TABOR refunds.
Then GOP Gov. Bill Owens, also an advisory board member for the No on CC campaign, supported Referendum C. Despite heated opposition from fellow Republicans at the time, Owens helped create that measure, reaching a compromise with Democrats who then controlled the Legislature.
"Having served as governor when Referendum C passed in 2005, I understand the difference between short-term adjustments during funding crises and permanent blank checks that the state government too often wishes it could write itself," Owens said. "Proposition CC is the latter, and for the sake of future generations of Colorado taxpayers, I urge voters to reject it in November."