PORTLAND – Supporters of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights on Monday rolled out a television ad featuring Colorado’s governor to respond to a wave of officials from that state who’ve urged Mainers to vote against the ballot proposal.
In a 30-second ad, Republican Bill Owens said he wants to “set the record straight” about how TABOR’s spending limits have worked in Colorado, the only state to adopt TABOR.
“The Taxpayer Bill of Rights has been a tremendous success here in Colorado – more jobs, lower taxes and young people choosing to stay in our state,” he said.
A number of Colorado officials have come to Maine to criticize cuts that were forced by TABOR. Last week, a Colorado physician warned that health programs were particularly susceptible to cuts because health care costs are growing so fast.
TABOR remains in effect in Colorado even though voters last November suspended it for five years to give the state budget time to catch up with losses that were incurred following the rapid contraction of the state’s electronics and telecommunications industries in 2000.
Owens believes TABOR has worked, even though he supported its suspension.
“There’s always a long line of people ready to twist the truth. But the fact is the Taxpayer Bill of Rights has worked here in Colorado. And I have no doubt it’ll work for Maine, as well,” Owens said in the campaign advertisement.
If approved in the Nov. 7 election, TABOR would limit spending at all levels of government – state, county and municipal – to the rate of inflation plus population growth. Voter approval would be required for all tax and fee increases.
The Maine Sunday Telegram came out in an editorial in favor of TABOR. The newspaper said there were flaws that needed to be corrected by the Legislature, but it supported the concept as a way to make sure government officials keep their promises to lower spending.
“TABOR is a blunt instrument to have to use to make officials keep their promises, but previous attempts have not been successful. It’s time to say loudly and clearly: Maine’s taxes and spending are high enough,” the newspaper said.
Sunday’s Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel newspapers, meanwhile, came out against TABOR. They say the best way to control spending is at the ballot box.
“TABOR is a radical shortcut that sidesteps what we really need: strong political leadership,” the newspapers said.