A court is weighing whether Colorado lawmakers should have more power to raise taxes.
A challenge to Colorado’s constitutional limits on spending and taxation was in federal court this week, with plaintiffs arguing the “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” encroaches on the legislature’s ability to raise taxes on its own.
The lawsuit, filed in 2011, pits a host of former state lawmakers and high-profile attorneys against a 1992 amendment to the state constitution which limits spending — even requiring refunds to taxpayers in cases of surplus — and also requires public votes on tax increases. It’s the latter requirement that has some lawmakers crying foul that TABOR “arrogates” their power to tax.
“Without the power to tax there is no effective government,” argued plaintiffs’ attorney David Skaggs at a hearing Monday, according to
the Associated Press.
While some lawsuits argue nuanced legal theories, TABOR foes go for the constitutional jugular: the U.S. Constitution guarantees states a “republican” form of government, and TABOR’s referendum requirement tips the scale too far toward direct democracy.
“Frustration with the work of legislatures, whether federal or state, may indicate a need for representative institutions to be more effective, but that frustration does not justify or permit resorting to direct democracy,” reads the lawsuit. Continue reading
Route 66 is a famous highway; Amendment 66 is a fiscal dead end, taking over a billion dollars yearly in new state taxes. Here are three strikes against 66 almost no one knows:
The first is their bogus ballot title. TABOR (the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) requires a tax increase ballot title begin, “Shall state taxes be increased ($x) annually…?” When the state title board first met, the fiscal estimate was just under $1.5 billion yearly.
A cost 50 percent above their failed 2011 tax hike would be fatal, so the teachers union sought a rehearing. The state agreed to lower the tax estimate one-third, to just below $1 billion. It declared that reduction corrected an innocent ($500 million) mistake.
Would a private analyst making such a “mistake” keep his job? No. Should those who deceive voters get huge pay raises? No. Are they morally fit to teach your children? No.
The second scam is the ballot title omission. State law requires ballot titles list major features fairly. Tax payers love TABOR; tax spenders despise it. So state employees hid the fact that 66 repeals TABOR’s constitutional guarantee of a uniform income tax (equal protection, the same for everyone). Today’s rate is 4.63 percent of federal taxable income. 66 establishes two tax rates. Continue reading