Dec 29

OUR VIEW: Elitists go after TABOR

December 28, 2012

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights exposes elitism in its most outspoken critics. Listen to them as some celebrate and others mourn 20 years since voters amended the Colorado Constitution to give the governed control of their government. Some who dislike TABOR believe the governing class knows what’s best for everyone else, as others believe state government should spend without constraint.

A front-page article in the Sunday Denver Post quoted Larimer County Commissioner Steve Johnson, a Republican who travels the country to warn other states against enacting TABOR-like limits on government.

“One of the years I was in the Legislature, we were refunding over $900 million to taxpayers at the same time we were making cuts,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want to see them (other states) make the same mistake that Colorado did.”

It is a “mistake” that voters chose to reduce the size and cost of government, but Johnson never explains exactly how voters were mistaken. Given that voters have the easy option of amending their constitution, and have chosen to keep TABOR for 20 years, it doesn’t seem like a “mistake.” Maybe, just maybe, a majority of voters wanted cuts in state programs and a $900 million return of their hard-earned cash. The money belongs to the governed. The state government and its services belong to governed and are under their control. Politicians work for constituents, not the other way around. If voters want a small government that does almost nothing, it is their right. Johnson complains that state spending, as a portion of personal income, has dropped from 6.7 percent in fiscal 1993-94 to 3.9 percent today. Continue reading

Dec 23

Two decades later, TABOR praised, blamed for limiting government

TABOR creator Douglas Bruce, pictured in 2005, says governments don’t have a clear license to tax voters whenever they want. (Denver Post file)

Twenty years after Coloradans approved the most restrictive tax and expenditure limitation in the country, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has reshaped state government and sparked debate on similar proposals across the country and now is under greater assault than ever before.

At its inception, conservatives lauded TABOR for its promise to restrict the growth of government and to empower citizens. But its legacy has been one of near-constant controversy; it has never been completely replicated outside of Colorado; its defenders say TABOR foes have consistently tried to find work-arounds; and there have been a few supporters who have changed their minds about the constitutional amendment.

For most conservatives, TABOR’s

(Click on image to enlarge)

20th anniversary is a moment to rejoice. 

“Colorado has largely stayed away from the fiscal cliff that states like California went over. That, in and of itself, is cause for celebrating TABOR,” said Jon Caldara, president of the libertarian-conservative Independence Institute. “It has required more transparency of government, and that is worth celebrating. And most importantly, it has angered every politician and ‘taking’ group because now they have to lobby all of us instead of just taking out a few legislators to dinner to get what they want.”

For liberals, the law acts more like an ever-tightening vise on state government.

Wade Buchanan, president of the liberal Bell Policy Center , says Colorado’s unique experiment has failed. Continue reading

Dec 13

New II Issue Paper Rebuts Myth that Citizen Review of Laws and Taxes Violates the Republican Form

By Rob Natelson**

If you are exposed to enough politics, sooner or later you’ll hear the old saw that the U.S. is “a republic and not a democracy.” Along with that saying goes the following claim: Allowing voter initiatives and referenda is unconstitutional: If a state lets voters enact laws or veto tax hikes, the state is too democratic to meet the Constitution’s mandate that it have a “republican form of government.”

A new Independence Institute Issue Paper, which I authored, examines those assertions in detail. The Paper shows that both are essentially myths.

The nation’s best-known measure requiring voter approval of most tax hikes is Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), adopted by the voters in 1992. This Issue Paper is published in response to a legal attack on TABOR: A group of government apologists has sued in federal court claiming that by limiting legislative control over fiscal measures, Colorado has violated the U.S. Constitution.

In a nutshell, the new Issue Paper finds:

* The American Founders did not firmly distinguish between a “republic” and a “democracy.” Some used the two words as if they were synonymous. Some adopted the view of Montesquieu that there were two kinds of republics: (1) Those controlled by a few (aristocracies) and (2) those controlled by the many (democracies).

* Dictionaries of the time defined “republic” as merely a popular government, as opposed to a monarchy. One encyclopedia-type dictionary included an article tracking Montesquieu’s definitions. Continue reading

Dec 07

City seeks opinions on potential TABOR ballot question

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – City Council hosted an open house to gather feedback on April’s potential TABOR ballot question.

In 2007, voters approved the use of Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights to fund construction on Riverside Parkway. Once the bill is paid, which could be as early as 2015, that approvile will expire.

‘Now, the city hopes to get voter permission once again in order for new projects and planning to begin.

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” said Clark Atkinson, Grand Junction resident who backs TABOR funding. “To stop investing in our capital improvements will result in a decay and put Grand Junction behind other communities, not only in the Western Slope but in Colorado and the whole region.”

“I think that we should just stop for awhile and maintain the infrastructure that we have,” said Richard Hathorne, local resident against TABOR funding, “put a good roof on it, paint it, fix the plumbing and electrical, and just idle for awhile. We don’t need anything new. Give us a break.”

Comment cards will be distributed through city utility bills early next week, or comments can be sent in through their website on the link listed below.–182477891.html

Dec 07

TABOR Input Needed

by KREX News Room by Danielle Kreutter

Story Updated: Dec 6, 2012 at 10:19 PM MST

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The city of Grand Junction has teamed up with the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Junction Economic Partnership to hold an open house to gather feedback on the next TABOR decision.

As the previous Taxpayer Bill of Rights cycle comes to an end, officials are hoping to be proactive.

“We think right now we can do debt services of about $2.4 million and so we’re trying to identify a project if there is excess TABOR funds that come up in 2015,” said Jim Doody of the Grand Junction City Council.

They are asking voters if they were to exceed the TABOR limits set for sales tax revenue, would the voters prefer the extra funds be given back to them, or if they would like to see it invested back into the community. Continue reading