Taxpayer Bill of Rights Analyzes Money Raised Around the Tax Expenditure Limits on State Ballots in 2006
Efforts in nine states to enact strict state-spending limits–or Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) measures–generated more than controversy. In fact, the issue drew $22.6 million in contributions to campaign committees formed to support or to oppose the measures, a new report shows.
Proponents of the TABOR measures raised $10.25 million, while opponents raked in $12.35 million, according to the report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
The report, “Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” examines the contributions to committees involved in TABOR ballot initiatives in Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
The Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that collects and analyzes campaign contribution information for state-level candidates, political party committees, and ballot committees.
Despite high-dollar backing from a network of organizations controlled or funded by New York real estate investor Howard Rich, the measures all failed. Voters rejected the initiatives in Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon, and in five other states–Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Oklahoma–successful court challenges by opponents disqualified the measures. In Ohio, backers withdrew the measure from the ballot in exchange for a less sweeping measure passed by the Legislature.
To promote the measures, groups affiliated with Rich provided $7.65 million, which was spread out to committees in eight of the nine states with TABOR measures. Six of the top ten contributors to the committees were connected to Howard Rich.
The main financial opponents of the TABOR initiatives were labor unions, which gave $6.87 million, or more than half of the money raised by opponents.
Out-of-state donors played large roles in promoting or opposing the measures. Nearly half the contributions to committees, or $11.9 million, came from sources outside the states with the measure. Eighty-one percent of proponents’ funds came from out-of-state, while only 29 percent of funds raised by opponents came from outside sources.
The report is the first in a series that the Institute will produce analyzing the money given to ballot measure committees during the 2006 election cycle. Upcoming reports will focus on giving to support or to oppose measures on issues such as tobacco, abortion, same-sex marriage, and eminent domain.