Aug 09

Sales tax hike for transportation a regressive, unstable funding scheme

In November, Coloradans will likely be voting on a scheme to raise the state sales tax to support state and local transportation projects.

Photo and copyright: Tony’s Takes – used by permission

Unfortunately, raising sales taxes would hit all the wrong people, and provide a particularly unstable revenue stream to fund this infrastructure.

It’s no secret that Colorado’s roads and bridges are a mess.  They have failed to keep pace with the state’s growth, even as maintenance has fallen behind.

You either end your weekend trip to the mountains on Sunday morning or you pack a picnic lunch for the parking lot home.  Daily commutes on I-25 come to a standstill between Colorado Springs and Castle Rock.  And driving around Denver means a permanent sinking fund for front-end alignments.

We’re in this state of affairs because the Colorado legislature has consistently failed to spend money on roads and bridges instead of other pet projects.  This year, the legislature passed Senate Bill 1 in an attempt to address the problem, but almost everyone agrees that the paltry spending past the first two years is an inadequate solution.

In response, the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Contractors Association have proposed raising the state sales tax from 2.90 percent to 3.52 percent, and authorizing up to $6 billion in bonds.  The additional revenue would be divided among state highways, local governments, and multi-modal (transit) projects. Continue reading

Jul 25

Coming up next: three local tax questions

Coming up next: three local tax questions

“Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never a convenient time for any of them.”

— Margaret Mitchell

We’ll soon see how far we’ve come as a community…whether the public safety tax and school bond and override successes last fall marked a welcome change in attitudes or were only a temporary aberration.

County residents will likely face in November a ballot question asking if the Mesa County can exclude state grants from revenue limits in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). In Grand Junction, voters will likely get two bites at the apple — one a proposal in November to double the city’s lodging tax and another next April to increase the sales tax to fund construction and operation of a community recreation center.

Two of the three, the ones soonest on our ballots, fall easily into the category of “no-brainers” while the third, the community center proposal, will likely generate heated back and forth between now and the city election in April.

It makes no sense, all three county commissioners argued in a public session last week, for Mesa County to not be able to accept state and federal grants for infrastructure and other purposes without busting the TABOR revenue cap but to instead have to turn down such things as a $5 million award for Mind Springs. Ironically, some grants not applied for come from federal severance taxes which flow back through the state and become subject to TABOR when passed on to local governments.

Continue reading

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 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

Feb 12

Constitutionality of Grand Lake fee questioned by TABOR Committee

Constitutionality of Grand Lake fee questioned by TABOR Committee

Lance Maggart

February 8, 2018

A furor was stirred up in Grand Lake earlier this year after town officials announced the implementation of a new municipal fee, and now one state advocacy group is calling into question the fee’s legitimacy.

In late January, the Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights Committee, or TABOR, the advocacy arm of the independent TABOR Foundation, issued a letter to Grand Lake’s town government, contesting the legal basis for the recently adopted fee, which imposes an additional $100 charge on each water tap within the community. The charge has been earmarked to pay for law enforcement and emergency dispatch services as well as street lighting.

“New receipts are to be deposited to the general fund and are intended to cover expenses that are traditionally core functions of town governance, namely street lighting and safety,” read the letter from the TABOR Committee. “Although the Colorado Constitution clearly calls for citizens to vote on all new taxes, you are trying to avoid the plain language of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by identifying the new tax as a ‘fee.'” Continue reading

Jan 14

A 25-cent Colorado plastic bag tax proposed by Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sen. Lois Court

Author: Joey Bunch – January 13, 2018 – Updated: 17 hours ago

The bill, if passed, would refer a measure onto the ballot to ask Colorado voters to approve a tax on plastic bags from the supermarket. The tax would be a quarter, the same amount whether the customer at the checkout counter uses one bag or several. The proceeds would go to grants and loans to local governments and building contractors to build or retain affordable housing in Colorado.

The text of House Bill 1054 can be read by clicking here.

Compared to runaway housing prices, the bag tax comparably is a small price to pay, The tax, they project, could raise $50 million a year.

“No matter where I go or who I talk to, the sky-high cost of housing is the number one concern that I hear,” Rosenthal said in a statement.

Court said, “Even with the construction of a large number of new condos, the leases are expensive and not bringing down the cost of housing in the city,” she said. “We see many areas of the state dealing with this issue—it’s not just the Denver metro area.”

As a bonus, the tax would encourage the use of reusable or paper bags and raise awareness of plastic bag waste in Colorado.

“Plastic bags pollute and litter our environment, plus they’re an eyesore and they don’t biodegrade,” Rosenthal said. “We have to be far more aggressive when it comes to curbing our daily waste, which only adds to the mountainous heaps of garbage that currently litter our state.”

Several Colorado cities already tax plastic bags, “proof that the system works in the state,” according to Rosenthal.

Boulder passed a 10-cent fee on all disposable paper and plastic bags and reduced in 2013, and the next year bag use dropped 69 percent in the city, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.

The bill carves out exemptions for restaurants and those eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Oct 02

Taxpayers Have Their Own Bill of Rights in Colorado. But Who Benefits?

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.
BY  OCTOBER 2017

Anti-tax advocate Douglas Bruce led the TABOR effort in 1992. “No one has had the impact on Colorado politics” that he has, according to one academic in the state. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

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.”

Continue reading

Sep 11

Colorado’s hot property values are triggering tax cuts — and one local college is scrambling to offset the loss

Colorado’s hot property values are triggering tax cuts — and one local college is scrambling to offset the loss

Colorado Mountain College is pushing a ballot question to negate future cuts, but it may not be constitutional

In an unusual ballot measure that walks uncharted constitutional ground, the Colorado Mountain College plans to ask voters in six counties for blanket approval to offset any future property tax cuts triggered by the Gallagher Amendment.

CMC’s board of trustees late last month approved the referred measure, which would give the board permission to raise property taxes any time the state constitution requires a cut to residential property assessments.

The measure won’t erase the cut that Gallagher has already caused: an anticipated $2.78 million this fiscal year for the Glenwood Springs-based institution.

Click (HERE) to read the rest of this story about TABOR: