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Caldara: Colorado legislature the real threat to democracy


April 17, 2024


Every conversation about the Colorado state legislature should begin with this preface: “And these are the people who say Donald Trump is a threat to democracy. …”

The legislature is moving forward with a bill to rip away direct elections of the Regional Transportation District Board (RTD), which encompasses the largest population of any local government in the state.

Yes, they are willing to allow a couple of “window dressing” elected seats to “represent” the 3 million suckers in the Denver metro area, while minion political appointees seize control of the state’s largest local government. But the goal is clear: end taxation with representation.

And these are the people who say Donald Trump is a threat to democracy.


The legislature is moving forward with plans to tax alcohol and give the money to meth heads without a vote of the people, by calling it a “fee,” and the bill is written specifically to do an end-around a citizen’s initiative passed to stop that very thing.

And these are the people who say Donald Trump is a threat to democracy.


Voters rejected a ban on hydraulic fracturing. Months later, the legislature passed Senate Bill 181 to put harsher restrictions on fracking than what the voters just rejected. But Donald Trump is the threat to democracy.


Voters rejected Prop CC in 2019 to keep their TABOR refunds. So, the legislature just passed fee after fee after fee to steal most of their refunds anyway. Alas, Trump is a threat to democracy.

Voters rejected Proposition HH, to again keep their TABOR refunds. So, the Legislature passed HH on their own. Trump, blah, blah, blah … democracy!

We can play this game all day. But the legislature will never admit they’re purposefully working against the expressed will of the people. Well, until now that is.


One Democrat said the quiet part out loud.

Rep. Bob Marshall, acting like that guy at a David Copperfield show quietly explaining how the tricks are done, accidentally spoke the truth during a committee hearing for House Bill 1311.

This bill will, and I know this is gonna be a big surprise to you, take away roughly half of your TABOR refunds for wealth redistribution. And it grows, year after year, guaranteeing your TABOR refunds diminish year after year.

According to the fiscal note on the bill, it could cost you $870 million annually. That’s about half of the expected state surplus — you know, your TABOR refund.


Marshall let slip the observable truth when he said of this bill, “To me it shows somewhat of a deep contempt for the voters because of TABOR, of what they put in place in ‘92, and we’re trying to find a way around it because we don’t like the fact that we have to give $2 billion back to the taxpayers.”

Focus on the magic words, “deep contempt for the voters.”


Bob Marshall, I’d like to thank you for being the first Democrat to say the emperor has no clothes. And, may I suggest you always check under your car before starting the engine.

This tax credit would send cash to poorer Colorado families with children who already get the federal Earned Income Tax Credit among a myriad of other benefits.

But helping the poor is not reason for HB1311. This tax raid will be paid for almost solely by people paying income tax, particularly high-income earners. This erodes our flat income tax rate and forces those useless repugnant people to pay more.

Anyhow, your refund will get cut in half without your vote, because, as you know, Trump is a danger to democracy.

Tax credit scams are the same as the “call it a fee” scams in that it takes away our TABOR refunds without voter consent (sometimes called democracy).


You might recall candidate Jared Polis ran on a promise to end about $1.6 billion a year in “special interest tax giveaways,” to lower the state income tax rate.

Instead, our libertarian governor has signed a cascade of tax giveaways. Last year alone, he signed on to 12 more costing $1.81 billion. According to an Independence Institute report, that’s about $514 more that would have been in your TABOR refund.

Let Marshall’s moment of honesty start a conversation: do we deserve such “deep contempt” from our elected servants?

Oh — and Trump is a threat to democracy.


Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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