Colorado Lawmaker Undeserving of Conservative Award

September 12, 2017

Washington, DC—Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is extremely disappointed to learn that the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a group we consider an ally and for which we have enormous respect, gave an “A” and “Champion of Economic Freedom” legislative rating to State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), the elected official responsible for blowing a hole in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), the most important tax-expenditure limitation measure in the nation.

In 1992, Colorado voters approved TABOR, limiting the growth of state government to inflation plus population and requiring all tax and debt increases go to a vote of the people.

Senator Sonnenberg’s bill SB17-267, which passed with support from every Democrat and only a handful of Republicans, is a $550 million annual tax and a $1.8 billion debt increase, the largest increases without a vote of the people since TABOR passed 25 years ago.

“It’s bad enough that Senator Sonnenberg ushered this tax increase through the legislature against the will of his caucus and without giving Colorado voters an opportunity to have their voices heard,” said ATR President Grover Norquist, “But what’s worse is that Senator Sonnenberg has provided a roadmap for how tax-and-spend elected officials can circumvent TABOR and grow government in perpetuity. It’s a direct violation of TABOR. The AFP-Colorado rating doesn’t reflect well on a group that is traditionally an ally.”

“While ATR strongly opposed Governor Bill Owens and his 2005 Referenda C and D to increase taxes and debt, at least he had the decency to honor TABOR and ask Colorado voters for approval. Senator Sonnenberg didn’t even have the common courtesy to do that,” Norquist added.

ATR urges AFP-Colorado to rethink their legislative scorecard to reflect the magnitude of damage that Senator Sonnenberg’s bill has done to TABOR and Colorado’s fiscal policy now and in the future.

Lastly, ATR strongly urges limited government allies including the Independence Institute, the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, the TABOR Foundation and Americans for Prosperity to join us in condemning SB-267 and Senator Sonnenberg for this betrayal of Colorado taxpayers.

“You cannot destroy TABOR and be a ‘Champion of Economic Freedom.’ AFP cannot claim to be a TABOR advocate and give a ‘Champion of Economic Freedom’ award to the guy who destroyed TABOR. That just doesn’t make any sense. Hopefully they will reconsider,” Norquist said.