Stop Digging: Colorado Needs Strong Public Investments

The Bell Action Network (the 501(c)4 affiliate of the Bell Policy Center) and the Colorado Fiscal Institute launched the Stop Digging digital advocacy campaign today addressing dwindling public investments in Colorado. Although Colorado is one of the strongest state economies in the country, it’s in a “hole” when it comes to funding the public supports that help many Colorado families and communities thrive. In fact, the state’s share of revenue for priorities like education, roads and transportation, child care, and housing is near recessionary levels despite low unemployment and robust economic activity across the state.

Unfortunately, the hole will only get deeper if efforts to slash Colorado’s revenue stream succeed. Specifically, the Stop Digging campaign examines the impact of two legislative proposals — HB18-1203 and SB18-001 — which would take away nearly $1.5 billion from Colorado’s General Fund revenue next year by reducing the state income tax rate and diverting funds solely to transportation needs. Reps. Patrick and Tim Neville are sponsoring HB18-1203, while SB18-001 is sponsored by Sens. Randy Baumgardner and John Cooke and Rep. Perry Buck.

Related: Forget “Middle Class” — $63,000 for a Denver Family to Just Subsist

“Colorado is not serving the needs of its people who want relief from high child care costs, congested roads, and inadequate education resources. To further reduce public investments in our communities when they are already among the lowest in the past 40 years is absurd,” says Scott Wasserman, president of the Bell Policy Center. “We need serious proposals that will ensure economic growth for every Coloradan, not bumper-sticker bills designed to make out-of-state funders happy. Our message to legislators is ‘put down the shovel.’”

The campaign also argues proposals to gut the state’s revenue don’t account for inevitable changes to Colorado’s economy or how past tax policy changes set the stage for the state’s current funding lapses.

Related: Oppose Reduction of Colorado State Income Tax Rate

“With every boom comes a bust, and if Colorado is already stuck in a hole when that happens, getting out becomes even harder,” says Carol Hedges, executive director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute. “It’s hard to ignore the hole we’re in today was caused in part by the tax cuts in 1999 and 2000. What we learned then still holds true: Reductions in tax dollars mean fewer teachers, correctional officers who are stretched too thin, higher student debt, and less community support for hardworking families.”

Instead, Stop Digging urges legislators to consider strong public investments and increased reserves during good economic times to help Colorado families guard against the bad times. The campaign will be ongoing and focus on smart approaches to Colorado’s funding hole. To learn more, visit