TABOR. Know what it is? It is the acronym for “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.” It is what the citizens of Colorado adopted in 1992. So far, $3 billion of surplus revenues have been given back to the citizens in the form of tax rebates or tax reductions. Not bad. Ready to implement it in Oklahoma? I am. Colorado’s TABOR, which was a constitutional amendment so the Legislature couldn’t mess with it without a vote of the people, has some points that make it attractive: 1) It is constitutional rather than legislative; 2) It requires a vote of the people to increase taxes or debt; 3) It limits revenue growth and spending to the sum of inflation and growth; 4) and it REQUIRES surplus revenues be returned to tax payers in the form of tax cuts or rebates. Obviously it is more complicated than those four points, but that is a summary of why I like it.

From what has been reported, Oklahoma could benefit from Colorado’s TABOR effort and add some additional points, such as creating emergency and budget stabilization funds. For me, both sides of the government would benefit. The taxpayers would get some control from government spending based on receipts, with excess going back to the taxpayers. The government side would get some leveling of budgets, allowing funds for down times, yet providing reasonable growth. When governments grow at a rate greater than the taxpayer’s income, something is out of whack. Legislators can always find ways to spend money, but choke when it comes to cuts. TABOR appears to level the growth and spending so that government does not get too far ahead of the taxpayer. Legislators cannot change TABOR provisions by making deals, as the voters have to vote on changes. This should provide legislators with a built-in excuse for not bringing home more pork! They should like the voter created excuse.

Now, if you like what you have heard so far, think about how to apply TABOR to our Edmond city government. If TABOR is good for the state, then why not the city? We have seen the result of the spending by the Mayor and Council. It is best explained by the green frog. Some think that ‘Old Red’ at Second and Broadway is the best example. The city should be glad to have a Charter item that provides emergency and budget stabilization funds. That provides comfort in knowing there will be funding from year to year. If you look at the city’s 2005-2006 budget, every cent projected to be taken in is projected to be used. Every cent .

Tell me that the city doesn’t have excess money each fiscal year. Then make me believe it. No city ever gets too much money. No city manager would allow that to happen. Cities can always find ways to spend money. Yet, that causes budgets to be bloated so they never have enough money. TABOR at the state level or the city level will provide for growth, but not excessive growth. TABOR at the state or city level provides for emergencies and budget stabilization. Yet, like the state is doing this year, excess can be returned to the citizens by the city. If a state can do that, why not a city? What is wrong with that idea?

I have read TABOR articles about Oklahoma that estimate had TABOR been in place by 1991, the state would have established a stabilization fund of $317 million and some $581 million would have been returned to citizens. How much could TABOR return to Edmond city residents? I know some people will disagree. Usually, TABOR proponents are tax payers. TABOR opponents are tax users. Oklahoma Education Association is a very vocal opponent, for example.

One proponent of TABOR for Oklahoma is Sen. Randy Brogdon from Owasso. He introduced TABOR legislation that did not make it out of committee. He stated his support for TABOR, “Over the past 10 years, state government has grown at an unsustainable rate of 89 percent, while the private sector has only grown 65 percent. The TABOR amendment would limit the annual growth in the state budget to the level of inflation plus the state’s population growth, ensuring that the state’s budget does not grow faster than the family budget.”

What a concept! Not letting government budget grow faster than the family budget. Here again, government could mean city as well as state. Not to be overlooked is the benefit of TABOR. With a well financed and run government is the probability of creating a better business climate that would grow our economy and increase employment. All in all, it is hard to find fault with the TABOR initiative. It is one we should support at both the state and city level. If you have an opinion about TABOR, send it to: news@edmondsun.com. If you wish to contact your state elected representatives, here are their addresses:

Sen. Todd Lamb (Senate District 47)

2300 N. Lincoln Boulevard, Room 513-A

Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Phone: (405) 521-5632

Fax: (405) 521-5507

WebSite: http://www.oksenate.gov/ Senators/biographies/lamb_bio.html

E-Mail : lamb@oksenate.gov

Rep. Ken Miller (House District 081)

2300 North Lincoln Boulevard, Room 331

Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Phone: (405) 557-7360

Fax: NONE

WebSite: http://www.lsb.state.ok.us/house/ Members/hd81.htm

E-Mail : kenmiller@okhouse.gov

Remember, it is up to us to see that they get it right.

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