Last night I had the opportunity to debate State Representative Bernie Buescher of Grand Junction over the merits of the $5 billion tax grab known as Referendums C and D. The event was hosted by Mesa State and its student newspaper, the Criterion.
First off, the Criterion did a great job with this event. I was enormously impressed by the hard work that Eric Lincoln and his fellow students clearly put into organizing and publicizing the debate. We enjoyed a large turnout by an engaged audience of students, faculty, and ordinary citizens. The questions that the student panel put to Bernie and me were thoughtful and raised the relevant points about Refs C and D in a way that generated a spirited back and forth between Bernie and me and genuinely advanced the public debate on what is at stake in this important upcoming election.
I told the audience last night, and it is worth mentioning again, that my sparring with Rep. Buescher showed how it is possible to disagree in an agreeable way, even on issues as contentious as these two tax-and-spend ballot measures. Some of the most vocal proponents of C and D would do well to give Bernie Buescher's approach a try. All too often, unfortunately, the tone of the C and D debate from the side of the measures' proponents has been less about good public policy than about indulging in personal attacks that do little to inform the public about the truly important issues that are at stake in this upcoming election.
My commitment to the people of Colorado is to lead the fight against C and D in a way that continues to focus on why these referendums are bad public policy. Leadership is staying focused while opponents try to distract people from the real issues.
On the substance of my debate with Bernie, the conversations I had with the thirty or so people who stayed behind to speak with me after the debate showed that we made real progress. Everywhere I go across Colorado, I can see that people are coming to realize that C and D are little more than an overreaching, unnecessary attempt to rob Colorado's economy of $5 billion -- out of the hands of working Colorado families -- and put those dollars into the hands of Democrat committee heads and, ultimately, state government bureaucrats.
The message I carried to Grand Junction last night resonated with the audience, just as I am finding it to resonate with audiences all across Colorado. That message was simple -- that C and D are not the answer to our budget challenges. $3,200 a year from your family is not the answer.
We have certainly not finished the work of defeating C and D, but I believe we are solidly on the right path. I plan to continue to carry my message about the importance of defeating these two ballot measures to every corner of our State, and I hope all Coloradoans who believe in fiscal restraint and who share a commitment to preserving the Taxpayers Bill of Rights will join me in my fight.