Caldara repeated Ref. C falsehood

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Jon Caldara falsely stated during a broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show that Referendum C was "sold" to Coloradans as "costing" about $3.7 billion and is now going to "cost" an additional $2 billion. But the 2005 Colorado Blue Book described the $3.7 billion as an estimate and stated that the "exact amount of the spending increase could be higher or lower."

During the February 13 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show, host and president of the conservative Independence Institute Jon Caldara falsely stated that Referendum C "was told and sold to us as costing us about $3.7 billion" and that it now will "cost us ... an extra $2 billion." In fact, the 2005 Colorado Blue Book specified in its analysis of Referendum C that the $3.7 billion figure it cited was an "estimate" of the revenues the state could retain under the measure. The Blue Book specifically stated that the "exact amount of the spending increase could be higher or lower, depending on the economy and the amount of money collected."

From the February 13 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show:

CALDARA: One of the problems with, with pot, is that it's thrown in the same league with all sorts of other nasty drugs, and I do mean nasty drugs: crack, cocaine, meth. These are, these are, these are bad things. And what's going to make this issue hit the forefront here in Colorado, and right soon, is the budget problems for prisons. Now, let me make it clear -- Colorado doesn't have a budget problem. Colorado passed Referendum C, which was told and sold to us as costing us about 3.7 billion dollars. We now find out it's going to cost us 5.7 billion dollars -- an extra 2 billion dollars. The state is not short of cash. That's not going to stop the state from whining like a teenage girl who just got daddy's credit card taken away. They will sit there and scream, "We don't have the money for prisons that we need." One of the big drivers is drug laws.

However, as Colorado Media Matters noted (here and here), the $3.7 billion figure Caldara cited was explicitly described as an estimate in the Blue Book. Furthermore, in approving Referendum C in 2005, Colorado voters authorized the state "to retain and spend all state revenues" through 2010, suspending the spending restrictions imposed by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) on state coffers.

As noted in a March 21, 2006, Rocky Mountain News article (accessed through the Nexis database), Colorado's economy significantly improved after the Blue Book estimate was released. Similarly, a December 22, 2006, News article reported, "Thanks to an income tax windfall, Colorado expects to collect $2 billion more in Referendum C money than estimated when voters approved the measure in 2005." It further reported that "[w]hen Ref C passed, the excess revenue to be collected over five years was estimated at $3.7 billion, which opponents criticized as low. The collection figure now is estimated at $5.7 billion."

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