Dec 15

Nicolais: An attack on TABOR could leave Colorado Democrats feeling the squeeze

Nicolais: An attack on TABOR could leave Colorado Democrats feeling the squeeze

A court composed of mostly Hickenlooper appointees turns the governor down cold, setting up a possible legislative showdown

PUBLISHED ONDEC 9, 2018 5:55AM MST

Mario Nicolais@MarioNicolaiEsq

Special to The Colorado Sun

Before walking out the door from the governor’s office, John Hickenlooper took one last shot at a Democratic boogeyman. Last week, the Colorado Supreme Court denied Hickenlooper’s parting attempt to undercut TABOR, the conservative taxpayer’s bill of rights enshrined in the Colorado constitution.

Democrats, have long derided TABOR for the constraints it places on government. Not only does TABOR require a vote of the people to approve tax increases, but several of its provisions work in conjunction with other laws to create a “ratcheting effect” on government spending.


Mario Nicolais

If revenues drop during an economic downturn, they cannot return to prior levels as the economy rebounds. Instead, growth is artificially tied to the down year plus a pittance for inflation.

The ratchet works like boa constrictor wrapped around a person. With every breath out, the snake squeezes a little tighter and the next breathe in is a little shallower.

Eventually, no breath can be drawn, and the person dies. I’m sure it delights TABOR’s progenitor, the eccentric Douglas Bruce, to imagine the government being asphyxiated.

Democrats have a little different view; they see a snake crushing the life from Colorado citizens. Gasping for funds no longer available, state and local services wither and waste away. Continue reading

Dec 10

Voter consent on taxes and debt a vital check in Democrat-controlled Colorado

Voter consent on taxes and debt a vital check in Democrat-controlled Colorado

After the midterm elections, Colorado voters woke up to an electoral map as blue as the sky. Democrats won almost all competitive races, including every state office. They now control both houses of the state legislature. But before we permanently paint Colorado blue, we should consider the outcomes of a few statewide ballot measures.

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

In fact, Colorado voters rejected most of the thirteen ballot measures at the state level. All the ballot measures proposing increased taxes and/or debt were defeated by a wide margin, including measures to fund schools and transportation. However, citizens approved a majority of the state’s local school bond issues and funding packages.

The results of these ballot measures continue a trend that began when the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment (TABOR) was ratified in 1992. TABOR requires voter approval for any increase in taxes or debt, and has proven to be the most effective state tax and spending limit in the country.  Since TABOR was adopted, very few state ballot measures calling for increased taxes or debt have been approved. However, at the local level the majority of these ballot measures have passed.

Continue reading

Oct 22

Ballot initiative seeks to increase taxes by $1.6 billion

Admin’s note: Vote NO on 73. It’s not “for the kids” as supporters of this TAX INCREASE say. This ballot question is a liberals spending dream and an end run around TABOR. Education already gets a funding increase every year since Amendment 23 passed in 2000. It’s too bad that student’s achievement results didn’t rise. More money does not equal better outcomes. TABOR will survive this misguided attempt.

Ballot initiative seeks to increase taxes by $1.6 billion; could end Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights

A controversial ballot initiative would raise taxes on Coloradans by $1.6 billion to increase funding for public schools if approved. Opponents argue it also would make the constitutionally protected Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) impotent.

Amendment 73, the Establish Income Tax Brackets and Raise Taxes for Education Initiative, seeks to amend the state constitution to replace Colorado’s flat rate income tax with a progressive income tax. Individuals earning more than $150,000 would be taxed more and the corporate income tax rate would increase. The revenue collected from the tax hikes would go into a newly created Quality Public Education Fund.

The state constitution requires a 55 percent supermajority vote for the initiative to become law.

“‘Take your success elsewhere’ should be the signs erected if Colorado approves Amendment 73,” Penn Pfiffner, former state legislator and chairman of the board of the TABOR Foundation, told Watchdog.org. “The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights properly treats everyone equally, requiring the same income tax rate be applied to everyone. Currently, if you make more money, you pay more, but only at the rate that everyone else pays. This proposal would change that, bringing an attitude that the upper middle class and wealthy should be attacked and made to pay increasing amounts. It is the worst concept in raising taxes.”

A group of opponents of the measure launched a “Blank Check. Blatant Deception. Vote No on 73,” campaign, arguing the ballot language is deceptive. It tried to have the question removed after the required deadline and Colorado’s secretary of state rejected its complaint. Continue reading

Oct 19

Beware the seven county-wide property tax hike, Question 7G

Beware the seven county-wide property tax hike, Question 7G

October 19, 2018

By Karl Honegger

Almost 60% of Colorado’s population, roughly 2.8 million people, live within the seven county Urban Drainage and Flood Control District (UDFCD). If you are a voter within this district, you will see question 7G on your ballot, the first question ever referred by the district since its creation in 1969.  The ballot language asks voters to approve a $14.9 million property tax increase, and to exempt that new money from the revenue limits in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).  They deceptively claim this really isn’t a tax increase, but rather just a full restoration of their taxing authority.

If you are like me and want your community protected from flooding, and also love spending time near your local pond or stream, then why would you want to vote against such a proposal?

The answer has to do with two things, common sense and government entitlement.

Any voter with common sense would want to find out how the money is to be spent and what kind of oversight mechanisms are in place. Unfortunately, the Flood District has never held an election that allows citizens to choose their board of directors. Instead, 20 of the 22 directors of the District are politicians appointed by local city councils or county commissioners. For example, the Mayor of Broomfield was appointed to the board by Broomfield City Council.  These politicians then appoint two professional engineers to serve with the Board Continue reading

Oct 10

Debate on county TABOR ballot issue

Debate on county TABOR ballot issue

  • By CHARLES ASHBY

Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese and Grand Junction resident Dennis Simpson will debate each other Wednesday on why voters should approve or reject a measure to exempt state grants the county receives from revenue limits set by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Pugliese has said passing Ballot Issue 1A next month would give the county more flexibility in its annual budget, and allow the county to act as the fiscal agent to help nonprofits get state grants.

Simpson, however, has said the county doesn’t need to exempt that money, which amounts to about $21 million of the county’s $165 million annual budget. He said the county already has the ability to accept money on behalf of nonprofits, and if there are issues with state grant revenues coming up against the TABOR cap, the county can ask voters each time, as the constitutional amendment allows.

Under TABOR, any revenue — a fee or tax — state or local governments bring in unless otherwise exempted is subject to the amendment’s revenue cap, which limits year-over-year growth. Some of the money the state collects is given to local governments in the form of grants, money that already is counted under the state’s TABOR cap.

TABOR exempts federal money that the state and local governments receive, but it doesn’t exempt money local governments get from the state.

TABOR only specifies that pass-through money isn’t counted under a local government’s cap when that money is collected by one government and goes to another, such as property taxes collected by a county that goes directly to a city, town or school district within its boundaries. Oftentimes, state grants to nonprofit groups require those groups to use a local government to act as a fiscal agent for pass-through money, but TABOR is silent on whether that money should be counted under the TABOR cap.

According to Colorado Counties Inc., a statewide lobbying and advocacy group, voters in 51 of the state’s 64 counties have approved blanket TABOR revenue limit waivers.

Voters in several other counties have approved TABOR exemptions for specific programs, such as revenues that fund their human services departments, or for specific projects, such as water resources or transportation projects. Still others have exempted specific revenue sources, such as non-tax money.

Overall, only one county — Weld — has never passed any form of TABOR exemption. Other counties have passed specific exemptions for specific projects, including one in Mesa County. In 2001, voters here approved exempting $3 million the county received in a railroad grant to build the 30 Road underpass.

If voters approve the ballot measure, Mesa County would be the first in Colorado to exempt only state grants.

https://www.gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/debate-on-county-tabor-ballot-issue/article_b20e6c8a-cb83-11e8-811e-10604b9f6eda.html

Sep 13

Little-known flood-control district asks Denver metro voters for first tax hike

Little-known flood-control district asks Denver metro voters for first tax hike

Urban Drainage and Flood Control District proposes tax-restoration measure on Nov. 6 ballot

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Greenway Foundation educator Kate Ronan, right, checks Annalena Tylicki’s net for bugs and other living creatures she collected in the South Platte River during a SPREE day camp at the restored Johnson-Habitat Park on June 9, 2015. The restoration, which included improvements to reduce flood risk, was paid for partly by the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.

By JON MURRAY | jmurray@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

September 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

 

In an election season full of proposed tax hikes, one of the less familiar ballot measures facing voters across the Denver metro area this fall comes from a regional district that aids dozens of cities and counties in flood control.

The little-known Urban Drainage and Flood Control District hasn’t asked for an increase in its property tax since its formation nearly five decades ago. That means it has actually lost ground, with its tax rate falling by 44 percent since the early 1990s under revenue growth limits in the voter-passed Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

On the Nov. 6 ballot, the district’s Ballot Issue 7G asks voters across its jurisdiction for permission to restore its full taxing authority, as many cities, counties and other special districts have done. The district covers 1,600 square miles across Denver and all or part of Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

Next year, a partial increase is expected to generate $14.9 million. Further increases within the restored limit would be left up to the district’s board, made up of elected officials from around the region, the UDFCD says.

Once that happens, the full tax increase would raise an estimated $24 million a year, doubling the current funding level for projects and programs. The hit for the owner of a $400,000 home would be an extra $13 a year.

The flood-control district faces no organized opposition to its proposed tax increase, but it does face a big challenge: Most voters don’t know what the district is or what it does.

To read the rest of this Denver Post story, click (HERE):

 

Sep 05

Amendment 73 property tax changes detrimental to non-school district taxing authorities

Miller: Amendment 73 property tax changes detrimental to non-school district taxing authorities

There would be four additional income tax brackets on top of the current 4.63 percent single rate for individual filers, with a top rate of 8.25 percent, along with a 30 percent increase in the corporate income tax.

To stabilize school district property tax revenues, the writers of the amendment went into the property tax laws and did some embellishing there, too. They should have stopped with the income tax.

The Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982, is the foundation of our property tax system. Gallagher specifies that 45 percent of all property taxes paid statewide are paid on residential properties and that 55 percent are paid on nonresidential properties. That 45:55 proportion is the “Gallagher ratio”.

Continue reading

Aug 30

Nonprofit leaders back TABOR ballot issue

Nonprofit leaders back TABOR ballot issue

County would reap benefits, they say

Nonprofit leaders back TABOR ballot issue

Carol Skubic, secretary and treasure, left, and Sharon Raggio, CEO of Mind Springs Health and West Springs Hospital, right, answer questions about the county’s proposed TABOR exemption outside the West Springs Hospital on Tuesday.

A ballot measure that would allow Mesa County to accept state grants as a revenue stream outside strict governmental growth limits could open potential funding sources for local projects, ranging from a psychiatric hospital facility to a new space for a nonprofit that services developmentally disabled adults, advocates said at a Tuesday press conference.

Leaders of Mind Springs Health, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations called the event Tuesday morning, the day after the Mesa County Commission voted to place Issue 1A on the November ballot.

The ballot issue involves Mesa County’s relationship with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which limits governmental income, including grants, unless an exception is made. Mesa County voters in November will decide whether the county can permanently make that exception for state grants, which are often applied for by nonprofits using the county government as a pass-through agency.

The still-under-construction Mind Springs Health psychiatric hospital project became a case study on the legal tangle last year when the county decided not to apply for a $5 million grant that could have made a major dent in the group’s fundraising goals in anticipation of going over TABOR limits.

“Had we been able to partner with the county as well as other communities in being able to secure some TABOR funds, that would have really put us over the top (of fundraising efforts),” said Mind Springs President and CEO Sharon Raggio at the event outside the facility.

HopeWest President and CEO Christy Whitney said she hopes voters will agree.

“There’s a lot of state money available to make some amazing things happen in Mesa County, but we have just fundamentally not been able to access it because of the really outdated view of the TABOR law,” Whitney said.

Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said both her organization and the Grand Junction Economic Partnership are behind the measure, in part because they believe that local nonprofits provide important services that serve the workforce, that the ballot measure is in “the spirit”of TABOR, and that state grants are partially funded by severance taxes that local businesses pay.

“It’s only right that those dollars can come back and help the nonprofits that are doing the good work,” Schwenke said.

https://www.gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/nonprofit-leaders-back-tabor-ballot-issue/article_ca9261ce-ab50-11e8-9dbe-10604b9f7e7c.html

Aug 30

Arvada, Lakewood each put spending measures on November ballot that avoid tax increases

Arvada, Lakewood each put spending measures on November ballot that avoid tax increases

Measures would fund transportation improvements, open space purchases

By JOHN AGUILAR | jaguilar@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

PUBLISHED: August 28, 2018 at 6:11 pm |

Suburban voters west of Denver will weigh in on more than $100 million in municipal spending proposals on this fall’s ballot, with Arvada residents set to vote on two major road projects and residents in Lakewood ready to decide whether the city can hang on to extra revenues to fix roads, buy open space property and purchase law enforcement equipment.

Each ballot measure was sent to the Nov. 6 ballot Monday night by a vote of the city council in its community. Neither would raise taxes.

Lakewood’s measure asks voters if the city can retain and spend $12.5 million in revenues it collected in 2017 that exceed what the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, permits governments in Colorado to keep. The measure also asks if the city can do the same with any excess money it collects through fiscal year 2025. Continue reading