Referendum 'A' gets an 'F' for Folly

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The Colorado Freedom

Referendum 'A' gets an 'F' for Folly

by Douglas Bruce, October 24, 2003 (posted)

Imagine signing an IOU for $400,000 to build a new home. What if no one would tell you where or when it would be built, its size, its features, its construction or maintenance costs, the interest rate, the monthly payment, the length of the debt, the builder, the architect, the plans, or even let you see the contract? Would you still sign? Of course not. Referendum "A" is like that, but the debt is 10,000 times greater -- $4 BILLION. A $4 BILLION blank check for unknown spending on unknown projects.

If that isn't bad enough, here are 15 more reasons to vote "NO" on "A." Other information can be found at

--"A" is the largest debt in state history. Our generation gets to spend the money, our great-great-great-great grandchildren will still be paying it back. The TABOR-required voter approval of debt is not by those who will repay the money. That is not "the consent of the governed" intended by the Declaration of Independence. Its author, Thomas Jefferson, wisely noted, "Public debt is the greatest of dangers to be feared." Colorado's constitution has said from statehood, "The state shall not contract any debt by loan in any form." Corrupt politicians and judges laugh at that ban.

--$2 BILLION of this debt is for interest and bond dealer payoffs. That won't buy one yard of concrete or supply one pint of water. Government is drowning in debt already. Enough!

--The state refused to print the text of Ref. A in the newspaper or the Blue Book it just mailed to voters. As required by statute and constitution, the texts of Amendments 32 and 33 were printed, but not "A." How can we approve a law if the politicians won't let us read it? What are they hiding?

--There are no standards for approving projects, except each must cost at least $5 million, and one must be approved by 2005. So a $3 million project will be inflated to cost $5 million to qualify. Brilliant.

--Ref. "A" sets a dangerous precedent of billion-dollar government subsidies to private corporations. Do we really want more corporate welfare?

--An easy test for evaluating "A" is this: If the water project would make a profit, the private sector would build it. If it won't make a profit, why should government build it?

--Ref. "A" concentrates all project approvals in the governor. Bill Owens will be gone before the first project is finished. With no checks and balances, the risk of fraud, boondoggles, bribes, and political payoffs is apparent. "A" politicizes water policy while promoting water socialism.

--Ten years ago, Washington state had a similar public utility disaster, called WPPS (aptly pronounced "Whoops"). That government assured its citizens there would be no bailout of cost overruns, fraud, or incompetence. That government lied. Those citizens now have to pay billions for that mega-scam. Here is what our state's mailed Blue Book warns (page 17) on Ref. A: "There is no prohibition of a taxpayer-funded state assumption of debt if projects fail." To save our state's credit, we will bail them out, too.

--If half-done projects fail for any reason -- cost overruns, environmental impacts, market changes, etc. -- the state must foreclose to minimize its loss. Do we want the state to inherit, finish, and manage poorly-built dams and other water projects? Do we want the damn government in the dam business?

--Most cities, like Denver, Aurora, and Colorado Springs, don't need this financing subsidy. But all citizens will repay the bailout when projects fail.

--The state water authority already can loan up to $500 million per water project. Isn't that enough?

--No water project has ever been blocked because of a lack of financing. Ref. A is not needed for solid projects, only weak ones.

--Nearly half our legislators voted against Ref. A. It passed the senate, 18-17. No consensus justifies burdening the next five generations with a Mount Everest of debt. We can't change our minds later; we cannot renege on contracts.

--Having the state borrow money to loan it to others at give-away rates makes no sense.

--More debt won't bring more rain. Nor does Ref. A help one drop of water conservation.

Government always uses a "crisis" to expand its power. The drought is over. A once-in-300-years event should not trigger a permanent expansion of state power, and debts for 100 years or more.

Don't let politicians exploit your fears with emotional buzzwords. The issue is not "drought," but "debt." This $4 billion cost must be paid by us, whether in higher taxes or higher water bills. Your "NO" vote is obvious. Referendum A is all wet.

Douglas Bruce is the author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) Amendment. He suggests that readers write a letter to the editor of major papers and any local paper, incorporating one or more of the arguments in the essay.

The Colorado Freedom