Pie in the sky 

C + D = the price of a large pizza, with everything

The foes of Referenda C and D want you to consider this bumper-sticker message before you vote in November: "NO REFUND FOR YOU!"

It's just a tiny piece of the big-dollar advertising blitz aiming to keep Colorado's cash-strapped voters thinking about their emaciated savings accounts.

Republican Gov. Bill Owens, Democratic and Republican leaders in the legislature, and an array of statewide and local business and social interests say the measures are needed to help build schools and roads, as well as to maintain social services.

El Paso County Republican state legislators, however, have banded together in opposition.

"The difference is a little more money for the mortgage or rent, new clothes for work or the kids," says Rep. Mark Cloer.

But the amount that would be refunded this year is $44.69 million, according to a Sept. 1 letter from state controller Leslie M. Shenefelt to Owens. Individually, that breaks down to just $15 for each taxpayer -- approximately the price of a large pizza, with everything.

When the figure was pointed out to him, Cloer, who represents economically and ethnically diverse southeast Colorado Springs, immediately questioned it. He says more surely is due each taxpayer.

"I'm not sure taxpayers are ready to trust the government," Cloer adds.

However, the figure is in line with a recent legislative budget forecast that Cloer concedes probably is more accurate.

The forecast shows that people also will get $15 in 2006, $49 in 2007, $74 in 2008 and $124 in 2009.

Referendum C asks whether the state should keep $3.7 billion in revenues over five years that otherwise would be refunded under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Referendum D asks if the state can borrow $2.1 billion for road and school construction.

-- Michael de Yoanna


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