How about learning more on a subject that saves you money and stops the explosive growth of government spending?
You’ve heard of TABOR (The Taxpayers Bill Of Rights), haven’t you?
It’s been in the news quite a bit lately.
Why not use the TABOR Speakers Bureau for your next meeting?
We take the time to explain “what” TABOR is along with what it does—or doesn’t do, “how” it works, “why” it’s so important to Colorado, “when” Coloradans get TABOR refunds, and “how” it impacts you. Continue reading
This morning the TABOR Foundation brought a lawsuit before the Colorado Supreme Court. As the Plaintiff, we have charged that both Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) and its Scientific and Cultural Facilities District had violated the requirements of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights when they started imposing sales taxes on items that had been exempt; items that the Districts did not have voter approval to tax. The arguments were presented on appeal to the State’s highest court. Our Foundation was ably represented by attorney Steve Lechner of Mountain States Legal Foundation. He faced alone the four attorneys employed by the governments on the other side. Our side had lost at both the District (trial) level and at the Colorado Court of Appeals.
We knew going in that the Court is skewed to the Left and consistently finds reasons to subvert the clear language of TABOR. One Justice, Gabriel, asked a hypothetical about getting broad-brush voter approval that, because as the Justice admitted, it was not applicable to this case. Mr. Lechner nailed a question by Justice Marquez. She had asked him if a precedent out of Mesa County could mean that the entire argument about voting on a tax policy change was irrelevant as long as revenues did not exceed the overall District TABOR limit. Lechner cited to her chapter and verse on why the particulars of that precedent were wrong.
Steve Lechner also gave a summary that laid out the proper path for the Court to follow, showing that our lawsuit does not ask to have the statute declared unconstitutional, since it merely provides the necessary legislative permission for the newly imposed taxes. We don’t even ask that the relevant statute be overturned; only that the Districts then take the next logical step and ask the voters for permission to impose those taxes.
In my experience, we will have to wait several months for a Ruling to be issued. The TABOR Foundation thanks Mountain States Legal Foundation for its free representation and its thorough, excellent work. Both organizations has seen this through as far as we can, and the Supreme Court’s ruling will conclude the issue.
Chairman, TABOR Committee
Opinion: The building blocks of TABOR
So, what do plants and Colorado’s economy have in common? While I grant that it is a little melodramatic, I think it’s also an apt metaphor for the situation imposed by Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
In 1992, Colorado voters approved adding an amendment to Colorado’s constitution that put a cap on how much revenue the state is allowed to collect through taxes. It also requires the state to authorize any new taxes directly through voters by means of a referendum process. Any amount above the cap is refunded to taxpayers. This mechanism allows me to feed into an unhealthy obsession with Legos every year, as my tax return checks can be quite generous. However, at the same time Colorado’s constitution has a requirement in it that requires the state to increase education spending to keep pace with inflation.
One great way to think of both tax and spending mechanisms is to think of TABOR as the brake and Amendment 23 as the gas. TABOR limits government growth and spending while Amendment 23 keeps a steady drip of cash flowing into government expenditures.
Reflections on 25 years of TABOR in Colorado
Friday marked 25 years since the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in 1992
• 1992 — Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amends Section 20 Article X of the Colorado Constitution
• 2000 — Amendment 23 for education spending increases
• 2005 — Ballot measure Referendum C loosens some TABOR restrictions for five years
• 2006 — TABOR measures rejected by voters in Maine, Nebraska, Oregon
• 2011 — State Sen. Andy Kerr and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst lead suit against TABOR
• 2014 — Kerr v. Hickenlooper confirms general assembly has standing to challenge the constitutionality of TABOR
• 2015 — U.S. Supreme Court returns Kerr & Hullinghorst case to 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
• 2017 — House Bill 17-1187 to change excess state revenues cap growth factor introduced
Both Sam Mamet and Larry Sarner acutely remember the moment that the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Act was amended to the Colorado Constitution. The difference: One man hated the amendment’s restrictions, while the other saw them as democratically vital.
Friday marked exactly 25 years since the election in which the amendment was added to the state constitution — Nov. 3, 1992. The measure took effect Dec. 31, 1992, and serves as a way to limit the growth of government by requiring increases in overall revenue from taxes not exceed the rates of inflation and population growth.
Do you want to pay more in taxes and give up your legally mandated TABOR refund?
TABOR Board member Brian Vande Krol did a televised debate last week regarding Denver’s Bond issues on your November 7th ballot. Here is his opening comments:
Taxpayers Have Their Own Bill of Rights in Colorado. But Who Benefits?
The unique anti-tax tool has defined spending in the state, and it may spread to more states.
The blue tag on the streetlight outside Robert Loevy’s Colorado Springs home in 2010 didn’t signal an upcoming utility project. It was a receipt to show he had paid the $100 to keep his light on for the year. The city was facing a decimating $40 million budget gap and, among many other cuts, it was turning off one-third of its streetlights. That is, unless residents could come up with the money themselves. “I could afford to pay it,” Loevy says today, “but I have to think that would have been a stretch for many lower-income people.”
Loevy, a retired Colorado College professor, says the lights-out incident — which earned Colorado Springs international infamy that year — is just one of the many instances in which Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) has only benefited those taxpayers who can afford to pay for services out of their own pocket. Loevy has been a vocal critic of the law. As he sees it, “TABOR has had its worst effects on poor people.”
TABOR was approved by Colorado voters 25 years ago next month. The constitutional amendment limits the state’s year-to-year revenue growth to a formula based on inflation plus the growth in population. If revenues exceed TABOR limits, the money has to be rebated to voters, unless they approve an increase in spending.
Colorado state Senate Republicans killed a second attempt Tuesday to re-establish a tax that could cost special districts some $6.9 million this fiscal year and then adjourned what might have been the least productive special session in the history of the state Legislature.
The final gavel, which came down at 2:23 p.m., ended two official days and several unofficial weeks of wrangling over whether the Legislature could fix an error it made in Senate 267 — the omnibus bill from the 2017 regular legislative session that boosted transportation funding, reduced business personal property taxes and freed up room under the state’s revenue cap by turning the hospital provider fee into an enterprise fund.
The error occurred when the bill inadvertently eliminated the ability for special districts to levy sales taxes on retail marijuana — a change that most affected the Regional Transportation District, which is slated to lose $6 million through June 30 because of it.
Legislative Democrats, with the backing of Gov. John Hickenlooper, offered two bills during the two-day special session that sought to clarify that special districts do have the ability to collect sales taxes on that uniquely Colorado project.
Colo. Taxpayer Rights Act Suit Appealed To 10th Circuit
Law360, New York (October 2, 2017, 2:56 PM EDT) — A group of Colorado political subdivisions have returned to the Tenth Circuit to argue that they have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
Eight school boards, a county commission and a special district board, in their opening brief on Sept. 27, claimed extensive injury from TABOR, a state constitutional provision requiring popular approval of any tax increase at any level of government.
“TABOR has deprived all of Colorado’s legislative bodies — from the state Legislature to boards of county commissioners…
October 2, 2017
The biggest fight over whether to fix a drafting error in a state rural sustainability bill is whether the fix requires voter approval.
Senate Republicans are adamant that voters in affected special districts should weigh in. Democrats and those who have fought similar battles in the courts disagree.
Monday, the Legislature returned to the Capitol to fix a drafting error in Senate Bill 17-267, as ordered by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who had signed the bill May 30.
The bill consolidated two sales taxes on recreational marijuana – a state tax of 2.9 percent and a special tax of 10 percent – and raised the tax to a voter-approved maximum of 15 percent.
Day one of the Colorado legislative special session ended with House Democrats advancing a bill to fix a mistake that could cost special districts as much as $6.9 million this year — but providing little reason to be optimistic that the measure can make it through the Republican-led Senate.
Legislators are grappling with a drafting error in the signature bill of the 2017 session that removed the ability of special districts to charge sales tax on retail marijuana, a gaffe that could leave districts a combined $6.9 million short on revenue this year if not fixed. The vast majority of that shortage — about $6 million — would be incurred by the Regional Transportation District that provides public transit in the Denver area.