THE SAME OLD TABOR: Maine’s “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” Proposal Fails to Fix Flaws of Colorado’s TABOR

(Augusta, ME) Today the Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a paper titled, The Same Old TABOR: Maine’s “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” Proposal Fails to Fix Flaws of Colorado’s TABOR. The paper reviews Colorado’s TABOR legislation and the claims of Maine’s TABOR authors that their proposal is sufficiently different. The Center concludes that any differences are “minor” and that Maine’s proposal fails to fix the flaws found in the Colorado legislation. If Maine were to adopt TABOR, voters could expect a hindrance in the “state’s ability to cope with unanticipated changes, initiate policy changes, accommodate voter and court mandates, or even maintain current service levels.” Mainers could expect a loss of critical public services much like Coloradans experienced.

The major claim by authors of the Maine TABOR proposal is that the addition of a budget stabilization fund has fixed the problems experienced in Colorado.Upon review, the Center found: 

  • The proposed budget stabilization fund greatly weakens Maine’s existing budget stabilization fund;
  • Under the proposed structure, there is doubt whether it would be sufficient to handle an economic downturn; 
  • Wording within the proposal prohibits use of the fund in a way that would fix the problems experienced in Colorado. Most importantly though, Colorado’s problems were not due a lack of a budget stabilization fund, they were due to the choice of growth formula in the legislation. Authors of the Maine proposal chose to use the exact same formula and therefore Maine can expect the same deterioration in government and public services that was experienced in Colorado.

“Maine voters need to gather the facts on TABOR before they go to the polls in November. First, state spending, relative to the economy, has not increased like many have claimed. In fact, this paper shows that the level of General Fund spending, relative to the economy, is the same as it was in 1992. Second, claims that Maine’s TABOR is different from Colorado’s TABOR are just false. The underlying problem with Colorado’s TABOR is the growth formula and the Maine proposal uses the exact same formula. It is therefore reasonable to expect negative outcomes similar to those experienced in Colorado,” stated Ed Cervone, policy analyst for the Maine Center for Economic Policy.