So-Called Taxpayers Bill of Rights is Proven Failure

Only State to Enact TABOR Just Voted to Suspend It

Pennsylvania Should Reject Failed Colorado Policy

Says The Coalition for Common Sense Priorities

Nov 02, 2005, 00:00 ET from The Coalition for Common Sense Priorities

    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
     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
 ( 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