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Conservative groups praise end of possible special session on TABOR


By Derek Draplin | The Center Square

Conservative groups praised the reported death of a possible special session in the Colorado capitol that would have asked lawmakers to consider proposals that would have the state keep more Taxpayer's Bill of Rights refunds.

Lawmakers could not reach a deal to change the language in Proposition CC, which will ask voters on the November ballot if the government can permanently keep excess revenue that’s normally refunded under TABOR.

The Colorado Sun reported Tuesday in its newsletter, “The Unaffiliated,” that “The governor and lawmakers recently threw in the towel on the talks, Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said.” 

The conservative groups, which oppose Proposition CC, consider the failed talks to be a victory in their defense of TABOR, the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1992 that requires voter approval of all tax increases.

No on CC, a coalition that opposes the proposition, praised the special session’s demise and criticized Democrats’ attempt to hold one in a statement Wednesday.

“Colorado Democrats’ effort to convene a special session was an incredibly short-sighted maneuver to circumvent House Bills 1257 and 1258, bills which they themselves celebrated and passed earlier this year,” said Independence Institute Executive Vice President Amy Oliver Cooke, who’s also a No on CC coalition member. “This attempted robbery-in-plain-view received deserved skepticism for its quick smash-and-grab of over $1.3 billion in Coloradans’ TABOR refunds over the next three years.”

Colorado Rising Action Executive Director Michael Fields said Republicans are united in their opposition to tampering with TABOR refunds.

"The Democrats wanted a special session so they could take the $575 million in this year's refunds, but thankfully that remains safe for taxpayers,” he said. “Republicans are clearly united here, and we can now put our energy towards defeating Prop. CC in November.”

Americans for Prosperity-Colorado State Director Jesse Mallory called lawmakers’ attempted deal “pretty shocking” in a statement. 

“The fact Gov. [Jared] Polis and legislators tried to hash out a deal behind closed doors to withhold more money from Colorado taxpayers is pretty shocking,” he said. “We need a strong Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) because it’s clear, after this ordeal, we can’t always trust politicians to act in our best interest. And given the lack of legislative support for this refund rip-off, it’s also clear TABOR is more popular among Coloradans than some politicians want to believe.”

Government forecasts project $1.3 billion in tax refunds could be given back to Colorado taxpayers over the next three years. The forecasts came after Democratic lawmakers pushed for Proposition CC to be put on the ballot. Withheld refunds under the ballot proposal would go toward funding education and transportation, lawmakers say.

Polis and lawmakers were reportedly in talks to alter the proposition’s language to withhold around $575 million of the projected refunds. In order to do so, Polis would have had to call a special session for lawmakers to convene.

The Sun also reported Democrats are still discussing ways to keep the refunds.

“It’s the Governor’s discretion whether or not to call a special session, and from what we’ve heard, that is no longer being explored for this interim,” said Sage Naumann, spokesman for the Senate GOP.