Jul 17

Bed tax law suit gets new life

Bed tax law suit gets new life

DENVER — Ongoing litigation against the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, among others, over a 2009 program that raised taxes via a “hospital provider fee,” has new energy after Cause of Action Institute announced earlier this month it would take on the representation of the plaintiffs in the case.

Cause of Action is a Washington D.C.-based 501(c)(3) organization that according to its website advocates for “economic freedom and individual opportunity advanced by honest, accountable, and limited government.”

Plaintiffs, who were originally represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation, had 60 days to find new counsel after Mountain States withdrew for reasons not related to the case or the plaintiffs.

Lee Steven and James Valvo are the lead attorneys. The Colorado-licensed attorney is Michael Francisco, who while working in the Colorado Attorney General’s office helped to write the defense of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) in Kerr vs. Hickenlooper, which claimed TABOR was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of government. That argument lost.

This case was initially filed in 2015. It asserts the state’s Hospital Provider Fee is actually a tax enacted in violation of the TABOR. Continue reading

Jul 16

Protecting Taxpayers with Supermajority Requirements

Protecting Taxpayers with Supermajority Requirements

Cartoon workingman reluctantly paying taxes. (Photo: AdobeStock/PPD/Adiano)

CARTOON WORKINGMAN RELUCTANTLY PAYING TAXES. (PHOTO: ADOBESTOCK/PPD/ADIANO)

The best budget rule in the United States is Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Known as TABOR, this provision in the state’s constitution says revenues can’t grow faster than population plus inflation. Any revenue greater than that amount must be returned to taxpayers.

Combined with the state’s requirement for a balanced budget, this means Colorado has a de facto spending cap (similar to what exists in Switzerland and Hong Kong).

The second-best budget rule is probably a requirement that tax increases can’t be imposed without a supermajority vote by the legislature.

The underlying theory is very simple. It won’t be easy for politicians to increase the burden of government spending if they can’t also raise taxes. Particularly since states generally have some form of rule requiring a balanced budget.

Basically a version of “Starve the Beast.”

Anyhow, according to the National Council of State Legislatures, 14 states have some type of supermajority requirements.

And more states are considering this reform.

Continue reading

Jul 16

High Court decision could send internet sales taxes to Durango

High Court decision could send internet sales taxes to Durango

New revenue would help, but not solve, city’s long-term budget deficit
A U.S. Supreme Court decision on internet sales could bring the city of Durango additional sales tax revenue. But unanswered questions surround the new revenue.

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Jul 16

Mesa County to host TABOR discussion

Residents are invited to learn more about the Mesa County Commission’s proposed ballot question to exempt state grants from the revenue and spending limitations of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Old County Courthouse, 544 Rood Ave., in the public hearing room on the second floor.

The commissioners are considering a ballot question to exempt state grants from the county’s TABOR cap, without increasing any taxes. Most of the state grants the county receives are for infrastructure projects, “so this actually grows the private sector, not county government, which should be limited,” Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese said.

Pugliese also said, “This would include pass-through grants for our nonprofits like Mind Springs. If we continue to turn away grants, our taxpayer money will continue to go to the state and be used in other communities for their projects.”

https://www.gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/county-to-host-tabor-discussion/article_02f2c588-88b3-11e8-bf60-10604b9ffe60.html

Jul 16

Bed tax law suit gets new life

Ongoing litigation against the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, among others, over a 2009 program that raised taxes via a “hospital provider fee,” has new energy after Cause of Action Institute announced earlier this month it would take on the representation of the plaintiffs in the case.

Cause of Action is a Washington D.C.-based 501(c)(3) organization that according to its website advocates for “economic freedom and individual opportunity advanced by honest, accountable, and limited government.”

Plaintiffs, who were originally represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation, had 60 days to find new counsel after Mountain States withdrew for reasons not related to the case or the plaintiffs. Continue reading

Jul 12

Motion to return Grand Lake municipal fee funds narrowly fails

Motion to return Grand Lake municipal fee funds narrowly fails

Grand Lake resident Tom Weydert, who is also Grand County Assessor, addresses the Grand Lake Trustees Monday night to express his support for rescinding the municipal fee approved by the town board late last year.

Grand Lake’s contentious municipal fee, approved last fall by the town’s trustees, was back on the agenda this week as town council members discussed potentially returning the fees already levied by the town.

Monday evening the town board voted four-to-three against a motion by Trustee Tom Goodfellow to fully rescind Grand Lake’s municipal fee and to return funds already received by the town back to the citizens who paid those fees. The vote saw trustee Goodfellow voting in favor of the action along with trustees Cindy Southway and Tom Bruton. Voting against the measure were trustees Phyllis Price, Andy Murphy, Steve Kudron and Mayor Jim Peterson.

The vote came at the end of a public meeting that included public comments and significant discussion of the fee and its history over the past several months. Grand Lake area residents Greg Barnes, Tom Weydert and Mike Tompkins all addressed the board expressing their vehement opposition to the fee.

“I think the money should be returned and fairly quickly,” Barnes said. “I don’t think it is fair to begin with.”

Continue reading

Jul 11

File This Under “How Much Is Enough?” Backers of a measure to raise taxes for education submit petition signatures

Backers of a measure to raise taxes for education submit petition signatures

DENVER, July 11, 2018 — The backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that boosts income taxes to raise money for education today turned in signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

The signatures for Initiative 93, as it is now called, are the first to be turned in this election season in an effort to get a measure on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. It is also the first initiative where supporters had to collect signatures in all 35 state Senate districts as required by the 2016 ballot measure “Raise the Bar.”

Initiative 93 involves a complex formula for raising income taxes among the state’s top earners.

Colorado allows citizens to put issues on the ballot after going through a process that includes reviews by staffers with the Secretary of State, the attorney general and Legislative Legal Services. These reviews do not determine the merit of the proposal, only if it meets state standards to attempt to get on the ballot. Continue reading