How Douglas Bruce And The Taxpayer’s Bill Of Rights Conquered Colorado

Source: CPR

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Budget and Policy Priorities

read how TABOR severely limits states revenue and choices

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The TABOR Explainer

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The revolution wasn’t supposed to happen. Colorado voters had shot down crusades for smaller government three times before, in 1986, 1988 and 1990. As the first Tuesday of November 1992 drew near, public support for Douglas Bruce’s political baby, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, was waning.

But a quarter century ago, on election night, the landlord from Colorado Springs stood at a podium in Denver ready to declare victory. Under red, white and blue balloons and streamers, he held a two-day-old copy of The Denver Post above his head. The broadsheet’s above-the-fold headline blared that his ballot measure was behind in the polls. With a wide grin on his face, he crumpled it into a ball and threw it down with gusto.

“The liars lost,” Bruce told the ballroom full of cheering supporters. “The people won.”

Bruce, a political outsider, won too. He and his group of anti-tax activists turned aside a who’s who coalition of Democrats, business leaders and even some Republicans. Those politicians had forecast doomsday if the voters embraced Bruce’s proposal to put tighter limits on government taxing and spending. Schools would close, they said. Businesses would leave the state. One opponent even wondered if police would be able to protect Pope John Paul II, who was coming to Denver the very next year.