HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- On the same day that the Pennsylvania House passed a bill modeled on Colorado's TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) legislation, Colorado voters Tuesday decided that 13 years of TABOR was enough. In a statewide election, Coloradoans approved a measure to get their state out from under the unrealistic and harmful grip of TABOR in order to recover from the damage it has caused. "The only state that actually has to live under TABOR just voted to suspend it," said Tom Wolf, a York businessperson, on behalf of The Coalition for Common Sense Priorities, a broad group of business, faith, labor, environmental, health care, children's, educational, and other groups opposed to TABOR in Pennsylvania. "Why would Pennsylvania want to adopt policies that have failed in Colorado?" By allowing the state government to retain $3.7 billion over and above TABOR spending limits over the next five years, citizens recognized the need for Colorado to fund critical services such as health care, roads, and higher education that have been neglected since TABOR was enacted in 1992. "With TABOR, legislative leaders are demonstrating their interest in playing political games instead of making tough decisions to move Pennsylvania forward," said Sandra Strauss of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. "Pennsylvania voters are already angry over being kept in the dark about issues that will have dramatic - and mostly negative - impacts on individuals and programs. TABOR will only feed anger at the legislature as more citizens learn that it means devastating cuts in services that will be particularly painful for our most vulnerable citizens and less accountability for legislators." TABOR could be even more devastating in Pennsylvania than Colorado because spending caps are linked to the rate of population growth. Colorado's population grew about 40 percent since 1990 versus 5 percent in Pennsylvania. "Although supporters of TABOR legislation in Pennsylvania claim that they have 'fixed' the worst provisions of the Colorado law," said Stephen Herzenberg, an economist with the Keystone Research Center, "but the heart of the Pennsylvania TABOR bill is the formula that limits inflation-adjusted funding increases to population growth. That's in the Pennsylvania proposal and will require drastic cuts in many state services." Earlier analysis by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (http://www.pennbpc.org) showed that over 20 years TABOR would slash Pennsylvania spending by an estimated 24 percent. "Pennsylvania would have to decide whether it wanted to close state parks or state prisons," said Sharon Ward of the PBPC. "TABOR would also lead to sharp increases in local property taxes because the state has to reduce funding for K-12 education and other local needs." In Colorado, a diverse, bi-partisan coalition of individuals, service providers, business leaders and educators worked together to lift the TABOR spending caps, including Colorado Governor Bill Owens (R). Under TABOR, Colorado has: -- Dropped from 35th to 49th in the nation in K-12 spending as a percentage of personal income -- Dropped from 30th in 50th in the nation in average teacher salary compared to average pay in other occupations -- Raised in-state tuition by 21 percent at its colleges and universities over the last four years -- Plummeted from 24th to 43rd in the nation in the share of children receiving their full vaccinations, and -- Dropped to last among the 50 states in the share of low-income children covered by health insurance. The impact of TABOR on economic growth in Colorado is suggested by the comments of Tom Marsh, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space Systems located in Littleton, Colorado. In an editorial in The Rocky Mountain News Marsh wrote that in Colorado under TABOR, "...the point has been reached where the skilled young people and the world-class infrastructure needed to sustain and grow our state's economy cannot be provided under the current system of budgeting." In the Pennsylvania General Assembly, consideration of TABOR will take place again in the next several weeks once the House and Senate bills have been reconciled.
SOURCE The Coalition for Common Sense Priorities