If only life were as simple as it appears in political ads
Back in 1992, Colorado voters approved the Taxpayer Bill of Rights
, or TABOR, which requires governments to get voter approval to increase tax rates and prevents them from spending what they collect if tax revenue increases faster than the rate of population growth and inflation. In those cases, the government must refund the excess; indeed, in some years after the measure passed, taxpayers received rebates for taxes that the government wasn't allowed to spend.
In 2005, with government feeling the squeeze, voters were asked to approve a referendum that would suspend the spending cap for five years. Norton, who was lieutenant governor at the time, was among the politicians who supported Referendum C, as it was called, and it passed.
There are two elements to consider: Was Referendum C a tax hike, and was it the largest in state history? The referendum that voters approved did not increase tax rates -- it removed the spending cap. So while that meant that people didn't get any refunds, the government didn't start collecting more money. We believe that most people would take "tax hike" to mean an increase in what the government collects. In addition, this was a temporary measure. Now that it has expired, could current elected leaders accurately claim that they presided over the largest tax cut in history?
As for whether this was the largest tax increase in Colorado history, that is unclear. The ad claims that Referendum C raised $6 billion
. But in a well-researched examination of this claim, PolitiFact interviewed an economist with the Colorado legislature
who said that, considering the recession, it was probably more like $3.7 billion. "The evidence is not conclusive that it's the largest tax increase in Colorado history, though certainly it's the largest in recent years," PolitiFact wrote.
For this reason we rate the statement "Mostly False". -- Steve Myers on behalf of the Truthsquad editors