'Taxpayer day' brings out anti-tax protesters

By Jimy Valenti
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Waving bright yellow “don’t tread on me” flags, hundreds descended onto the Capitol Wednesday to raise awareness for taxpayer rights under Colorado’s state constitution.

Taxpayer day, hosted by the Americans For Prosperity Colorado chapter, was well attended by members of the Tea Party movement holding signs reading, “Taxed enough already?” and “I love TABOR.”

The rally was in response to the Legislature’s elimination of multiple tax credits in an attempt to balance a $2 billon budget shortfall. Jeff Crank, a conservative radio personality, former congressional candidate and American’s for Prosperity Colorado director, said Colorado taxpayers can’t afford “out-of-control” taxes and fees.

“Feeling enough is enough, these pro-liberty organizations are dedicating the rally to one special interest group they feel has been forgotten until lately — the taxpayer,” said Crank in a release promoting the event.

The rally was preceded by a grassroots advocacy session, also hosted by Americans for Prosperity, which instructed participants on how to work with government to enact policy change.

“We are trying to give folks the tools to get involved,” said Crank.

According to Crank, the governor and Legislature recently circumvented TABOR (The Tax Payers Bill of Rights) in eliminating tax exemptions on candy and online purchases. He said not renewing tax exemptions is still a tax increase unconstitutional under TABOR.

“Just because there is a tough budget environment, it doesn’t mean it’s right to go and raise taxes without the people’s consent,” said Crank.

Speakers, including Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, northern Colorado radio personality Amy Oliver, local activist Lenina Close and Independence Institute President Jon Caldara, encouraged the crowd of nearly 200 to keep fighting higher taxes.

“We need to get rid of those spending bullies,” said Oliver. “We don’t need to support TABOR. We need to strengthen it.”

“See that gold on top of the dome,” said Gardner. “That gold belongs to you. That is your gold and we ought to scrape it off before we tax anymore in this state. “

Close tried to put the national budget of $3.5 trillion into perspective for the crowd.

“If we were to lay $1,000 bills flat on the ground and then place another on top of it, and another on top of that, until we had a stack of $1,000 bills equaling the money of our national budget,” said Close. “We would have a stack of $1,000 bills towering 257 miles into the sky. That’s 50 times higher than most commercial aircraft fly.”

Republican Legislators Frank McNulty, Dave Schultheis, Scott Renfroe, Kevin Lundberg, Jim Kerr, Larry Liston and Laura Bradford were also in attendance. Caldara asked the crowd why Republicans have begun acting like true Republicans.

“Is it because of them?” asked Caldara of the crowd. “No! It’s because of us.”

Caldara said liberty movements across Colorado need to continue holding both parties accountable.

“We are a proud tradition of peaceful warriors and its time that we understand our place in history,” said Caldara.

Jimy@coloradostatesman.com