Jun 03

Lawmakers looking at end run around ballot question on property tax cut

A bill proposed in the waning days of the General Assembly would rewrite how property taxes are classified, but more directly could work around a question about lowering property taxes on the November ballot.

Colorado Politics obtained a draft of the bill to be introduced late Wednesday by Sen. Chris Hansen, a Denver Democrat, and Sen. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, to turn the two property tax classifications, commercial and residential, into five or perhaps six divisions.

In the House, the bill’s prime sponsor is Majority Leader Daneya Esgar of Pueblo.

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May 21

Colorado Democrats want to use one of TABOR’s most effective tax-halting mechanisms for themselves

House Bill 1321 comes as progressives have all but given up on doing away with TABOR, the 1992 constitutional amendment that has served as a third rail in Colorado politics ever since its passage

One of the most effective parts of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights when it comes to stopping tax-raising ballot questions in Colorado is a requirement that voters be informed, IN CAPITAL LETTERS, about the eye-popping sum they are deciding whether to allow the government to collect.

“SHALL STATE TAXES BE INCREASED $766,700,000 ANNUALLY FOR A TWENTY-YEAR PERIOD?” Proposition 110, which was focused on raising money for transportation projects, scream-asked voters in 2018. (It failed.)

Now, Democrats are trying to adapt that potent TABOR transparency tool for their own purposes.

House Bill 1321, a measure introduced at the Capitol this week, would require voters to be informed of which programs would be affected by ballot questions decreasing taxes.

The legislation would require the following language be attached to tax-reducing ballot measures: “Shall funding available for state services that include, but are not limited to, (the three largest areas of program expenditures) be impacted by a reduction of (projected dollar figure of revenue reduction to the state in the first full fiscal year that the measure reduces revenue) in tax revenue…?”

The bill would also mandate that ballots containing tax questions highlight how many people in which tax brackets would be most affected by tax hikes or decreases, and require that ballot titles for tax increases state that the aim is to “increase or improve levels of public services” and then list those services.

“It’s an attempt to provide more information and level the playing field,” said Carol Hedges, who leads the liberal-leaning Colorado Fiscal Institute, which supports the measure. “Currently, the all-caps language focuses people’s attention only on the size of state government. We know that the size of state government is not the only factor people should be considering.”

Scott Wasserman, who leads the Bell Policy Center, a liberal advocacy organization, called the measure “a great idea” that seeks to offset what he sees as the manipulative aspects of TABOR.

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May 12

Debunking the top 5 misleading claims about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights experience

Featured Image

 

  • Debate over North Carolina’s recently proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights will begin heating up soon
  • Opponents will likely try to portray Colorado’s experience in a negative light, to serve as a warning
  • Their major claims, however, are easily debunked

North Carolina legislators recently filed a bill that would enable voters to decide if a Taxpayer Bill of Rights should be added to the state constitution.

The main feature of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights is that it would limit the annual growth rate of the state budget to a rate tied to inflation plus population growth. Other provisions would require voter approval of tax increases and mandate that excess revenue collections be used to bolster the state’s Rainy Day fund and refunded back to taxpayers.

The benefits of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights are many, most notable in that it would make permanent the fiscal restraint that conservative lawmakers have exercised over the last decade. Common-sense restraints on spending can smooth out spending cycles, better prepare the state for economic downturns, and enable tax cuts to make North Carolina more competitive for investment and job growth.

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May 12

GUEST COLUMN: Family budgets beset by politician’s plans

Paul Lundeen
Paul Lundeen

There is no doubt Colorado needs to upgrade its roads and bridges. You can’t drive in El Paso County without swerving around potholes. Now that the pandemic appears to have crossed a tipping point, wait times are building again to get from Colorado Springs to Denver.

The fact that Colorado legislators are paying attention to our infrastructure problems should be a win. But SB 260 is more about building government than building roads.

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May 04

Protect Colorado Taxpayers – Vote NO on the Gas Tax

You’ve likely heard about the legislature’s new gas tax proposal, which seeks to raise over $4 billion to “solve” our infrastructure needs. This massive proposal includes new charges at the gas pump, on delivery services like Amazon, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, and more.   No matter who you are, they have a new charge for you.

We all agree that our roads and bridges need repair, but Coloradans already pay 22 cents per gallon in State taxes, on top of the 18.4 cents we pay in federal taxes. For certain politicians that’s just not enough.

Much of the debate has focused on the questionable legality of the proposal, due to the passage of Proposition 117 just this past November.  That requires governments to receive voter approval before enacting these types of new, large “fees.” The unique protections of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, require the legislature to obtain voter approval before raising taxes. But sponsors won’t let that stop them. Instead, they’re calling these new taxes, “fees,”’ so that Colorado voters won’t have a voice in the process. Continue reading

May 03

Objectors unsuccessful at blocking property tax cuts at Title Board

The Title Board reconsidered its ballot titles for three property tax reduction proposals at its April 30, 2021 meeting.

Opponents were unsuccessful at derailing three ballot initiatives that would cost local governments more than $1 billion in property tax revenue as the Title Board on Friday stuck by its original decision to award a ballot title to the measures.

On April 21, the three-member board concluded Initiatives #26-28 contained a single subject, as the state constitution requires, and consequently set a title that would appear before voters. But objectors Carol Hedges and Scott Wasserman challenged the board’s finding, trigging a rehearing at the Title Board’s final meeting to screen proposals for the 2021 statewide ballot.

As introduced, the initiatives would all reduce the residential property tax assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.5% and cut the assessment rate for all other property from 29% to 26.4%. Nonpartisan fiscal analysts estimated the tax cut would constitute a $1.03 billion hit to local governments, affecting services such as K-12 education and police. Because Colorado’s school financing scheme requires the state to backfill funding for local districts, there would be an extra $258 million in additional state spending each year.

Partially offsetting the sizeable loss in local government revenue would be $25 million that the state could temporarily direct toward localities — if excess income exists that normally would be refunded under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The three proposed initiatives would funnel the money toward fire protection, toward reimbursements for the senior homestead tax exemption, toward general relief.

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Apr 26

Conservative advocacy groups look to cut Colorado’s gas tax rate

 

FILE - Colorado gasoline pumps
An attendant walks past the empty gasoline pumps at Shell station down the canyon from where casinos have been closed to the public in the state’s efforts to fend off the spread of coronavirus Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Black Hawk, Colo.

(The Center Square) – Two of Colorado’s most influential conservative advocacy groups say they will join forces on ballot measure language to reduce the state’s gas tax in 2022.

Americans for Prosperity-Colorado (AFP-CO) and Colorado Rising State Action announced the plan in a statement on Monday in response to a Democratic-backed proposal to hike fees on gasoline to fund the state’s transportation system.

The $3.9 billion fee proposal, which hasn’t been formally introduced in the General Assembly yet, would include fee increases on regular gas, diesel gas, electric vehicle registrations, ride-shares, and online retail deliveries.

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Apr 16

2021 Colorado Legislature: Bigger Government, Smaller Us

By Christine Burtt, TABOR Foundation Board Member
4/13/2021

 

There are several onerous pieces of legislation in Colorado this year that will negatively impact your standard of living, if not your way of life.

Here are three notable examples.

 

  • HB21-1083, the so-called “Don’t dare to challenge the government’s valuation on your home” bill, was designed to create a chilling effect on homeowners questioning the assessment that calculates their property tax.

 

The bill, which has been signed into law by Governor Polis, was initiated by the Colorado Assessors. It changes existing law that prevented a county assessor from raising taxes on a property if the homeowner challenged an assessment. The previous law gave homeowners an appeals process if they believed their property had been assessed at a value higher than was warranted.

, with the new law, if you challenge the valuation set by the county assessor, the assessor may keep the valuation as stated, or may even increase your property tax. It won’t go down. Continue reading

Mar 18

Here are the new gas and road-usage fees behind Colorado Democrats’ $4 billion transportation plan

The new fees would start in July 2022 to pay for infrastructure projects, efforts to improve air quality and public transportation initiatives

With Pikes Peak looming in the distance, traffic flows along Federal Boulevard in Westminster on May 13, 2020. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Colorado drivers would begin paying a new fee of 2 cents on every gallon of gas they purchase starting in July 2022 under legislation Democratic state lawmakers are expected to introduce in the coming weeks.

That fee, which would not require voter approval, would increase to 8 cents per gallon starting in July 2028 under the proposal, which is part of a $4 billion, 11-year effort to raise and spend money for badly needed transportation projects across the state.

Lawmakers, political groups and business interests have been trying for years, without much luck, to find a transportation funding solution. The proposal, which includes a number of other new road-usage fees, is backed by Gov. Jared Polis and also aims to reduce traffic congestion on Colorado’s roads, expand public transportation and improve air quality by making it easier for people to own electric vehicles and spending millions on environmental initiatives.

“We think this is the time that we absolutely have to get something done and something meaningful,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat. “Not a baby step, but a real meaningful step toward solving the transportation problems that we have in our state.”

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