Caldara used his public TV show to mislead again on cost of Ref. C


On the public television program Independent Thinking, host Jon Caldara repeated the false claim that Referendum C, which Colorado voters approved in 2005, would cost "almost twice ... what [proponents] said it would." In fact, the Colorado Blue Book expressly stated in its fiscal analysis of the measure that the state might retain $3.7 billion -- a figure explicitly presented as an "estimate" -- and that the exact amount "could be higher or lower."

Speaking with conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist on the June 29 broadcast of KBDI Channel 12's Independent Thinking, Independence Institute president and host Jon Caldara repeated the conservative falsehood that the 2005 voter-approved Referendum C was presented as carrying a specific price tag. Caldara claimed that "Referendum C ... is now coming in, as we predicted, almost twice the size ... of what they said it would be." 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. Moreover, the Blue Book explicitly stated that the "exact amount of the spending increase could be higher or lower, depending on the economy and the amount of money collected."

Additionally, in responding to Norquist's question about "how close" Referendum C's margin of victory was at the polls, Caldara replied, "Two percent." However, according to official results from the Colorado secretary of state's website, 52.06 percent of voters voted in favor of Referendum C while 47.94 percent voted against, resulting in a 4.12 percentage-point margin of victory.

As Colorado Media Matters has documented, Caldara previously has misled about the cost of Referendum C. During the February 13 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, he asserted that the measure was "sold to us as costing us about $3.7 billion" but will now "cost us ... an extra $2 billion." Likewise, Independence Institute director of operations Amy Oliver on her 1310 KFKA radio show also falsely portrayed as a firm price tag the official estimate of how much tax revenue would be retained under Referendum C.

From the June 29 broadcast of KBDI Channel 12's Independent Thinking:

CALDARA: Referendum C -- which, by the way, is now coming in, as we predicted, almost twice the size of, of what they said it would be.


CALDARA: Anybody predict -- anybody, anybody predict that? No. Not, not here. So anyway, I see that Republicans, ins -- once in power, instead of actually being fiscal conservatives saying, "We're gonna go out there, we're gonna find new ways to do our business, we're gonna do it cheaper, we're gonna do it better, here's how we're gonna do it. Let's contract out, let's sell things." It's just easier to get more money at it. Democrats, Republicans -- neither one has a stomach to take on special interests.

NORQUIST: Well, here's, here's the interesting thing. In the 50 states, people can and do move between states. And if you look at the last 20 years, you see real migration away from high-tax states towards lower-tax states -- away from states with income taxes to states without income taxes. People are flowing into Nevada, into Texas, into Florida. They're moving into New Hampshire, which is snowy but doesn't have an income tax.


NORQUIST: I think we do need to say to people who want to raise taxes and say, "What you're telling me is that the issue of the day" -- and they change it from time to time. There's a -- what they want is more taxes. They give you different reasons for it -- they're like a, a young man on, on prom night -- it's the same question, but, but different lines of argument. And they just, you just have to go, "No, no, you can't have more taxes." And you have to say "no" all night, not just once or twice.

CALDARA: But it's, it's never more taxes for bureaucrats, it's never more taxes for -- it's always more taxes for children. It is always more taxes for that one thing that we need more than anything else.

NORQUIST: And they change it. They change it.

CALDARA: But Referendum C was, was, was a perfect example.

NORQUIST: But how, how close was that?

CALDARA: Two percent.

NORQUIST: OK. And how much did they spend compared to --

CALDARA: They spent 10 million dollars officially, plus they had 12 hundred organizations, half of them (C)(3) charitable organizations getting tax money, using it; so yes, that and --

NORQUIST: I would argue --

CALDARA: -- every single, every single newspaper in the state editorialized in favor of it. The, the opponents, we had -- nothing in comparison.

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