The Rocky Mountain News had a good story yesterday about former Senate President John Andrews, who used to favor changes to TABOR but now does not. From the News:
Meet John Andrews, who as state Senate president voted in 2004 to eliminate TABOR tax refunds for eight straight years. Meet John Andrews, private citizen, who today is working around the clock to defeat Referendum C, a November ballot issue that would eliminate the tax refunds for only five years.
Andrews blasts Ref C as a tax increase that weakens TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights that limits government spending and growth.
But wait a minute.
Didn’t Andrews vote for budget-relief bills that would have gutted TABOR and given the state at least $1 billion more than Ref C would take in?
“I did,” he said. “I cast a ‘preliminary’ vote. Anyone who believes that is a predicator of what happens later is simply naive.”
Andrews said he never planned on supporting the bills he voted for had they gotten on the 2004 ballot. The bills all died. He maintains there’s no flip-flop, but some fellow Republicans say Andrews reminds them more and more of a certain Democrat.
“John Andrews is slowly morphing into John Kerry,” said Katy Atkinson, a GOP consultant serving as spokeswoman for the Ref C campaign. “John Kerry said, ‘I voted for it before I voted against it.’ John Andrews says, ‘I voted for it but really didn’t support it, and now I’m against it.'”
Why the change? First of all, you need to start with Andrews’ former position. There is a state budget problem, whether opponents will publicly admit it or not, and when Andrews was the head of the senate it was his job to try to fix it or else he would get much of the blame.
But now that he’s not steering the bus (and term-limited to boot) he can be a backseat driver and not worry about whether or not Referenda C&D fail. This allows him to keep his “fiscal conservative” credentials for his next race – possibly a run for congress in district six (Rep. Tom Tancredo’s seat). If C&D fail, he’ll have to work with the legislature to try to find another budget solution, but the pressure won’t be on him. It’s easy to duck this one now that some of the political pressure is off, but that doesn’t make him look like a very strong leader – even to fellow Republicans.
…Andrews’ arguments don’t fly with state Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood.
“They’re hypocritical,” she said.
Anderson served as the Senate majority leader when Andrews was Senate president. Lawmakers were forced to make painful budget cuts when revenues plunged by nearly $1 billion.
“That was when the governor was saying ‘We don’t have a crisis,’ and I can remember Andrews saying he didn’t understand why the governor didn’t see it as a crisis,” Anderson said. “It was a crisis. It was miserable.”
Andrews now says there is no state budget crisis.
Not the Senate President? Not my problem!