You may recall my recent report on a forum I attended where Kristi Hargrove, of Colorado, discussed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights referendum that is on the ballot in Maine this November.

Colorado, her home state, is currently the only state with TABOR. They have been living with it since 1992 so her experience is helpful to citizens in states like Maine where TABOR is being debated.

Kristi decided to visit Maine and speak about TABOR because she felt it was the right thing to do; she was not paid to leave her four children, husband and office to travel across the country and discuss fiscal policy. She did it because she wanted to make sure Mainers knew about the problems TABOR caused in Colorado, so we could learn from, and hopefully avoid, their mistake.

AARP helped arrange for Kristi to tell her personal story of how TABOR impacted her family, her small business and her community in a very rural area of Colorado.

But in a letter to the editor, Mary Adams, the sponsor of Maine’s TABOR referendum, said Kristi was “squealing” along with the “pigs at the trough” such as AARP. This was very upsetting to Kristi and she wrote the following response: “I am a mom. I represent my children. I am passionately against TABOR because of how it hurt the public schools in Colorado. School children in Colorado (and Maine) are not pigs.

“Senior citizens in Colorado and in Maine are not pigs either. To my knowledge AARP does not receive state funding. They represent senior citizens who need prescription drugs, transportation, nurses and heat in their homes during the winter. Are senior citizens in Maine a bunch of pigs at a trough? Are they getting too many services?”

Adams also implied that Kristi had a partisan agenda. Wrong! I, myself, heard Hargrove explain that she is a fiscally conservative Republican but is nevertheless willing to work with people of any political party to oppose TABOR.

Last November, voters in Colorado passed a referendum to suspend TABOR for five years because it had caused too much damage; it wasn’t working. She notes that “the coalition that successfully fought for this referendum was bipartisan and broad; it included every chamber of commerce, economic development corporations, labor unions, non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, Republicans, Democrats, higher education leaders, health care providers, and many more.”

For my part, I am terribly disappointed that this very kind, concerned parent, who has sacrificed so much to come here and warn us about an error we might be making, would be treated with such disrespect. Yet, I’m sadly not surprised.

I don’t know why right-wing conservatives who are pushing TABOR on us seem to so often resort to angry language. I have frequent conversations on the topic and too many times the others are soon raising their voices, and screaming epithets. They seem to believe our lawmakers, town councils, selectmen, and school boards are all intent on robbing them and only them!

That’s sad because Mainers don’t treat each other that way normally. I wonder if all this paranoia and name-calling is coming from away, along with all the money that is pouring into Maine to help pass this referendum. I look forward to a time when we can return to cordially treating our precious Maine neighbors with respect, regardless of their views.

Hargrove concluded: “TABOR creates problems instead of solving them. TABOR hurts priorities instead of furthering them. TABOR makes our elected officials less accountable, not more. TABOR is bad policy and I hope the people of Maine are not fooled the way we were in Colorado.”

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