Feb 09

TABOR debate carries long-term results

Who do you trust to spend your money: You, or the government?

Unfortunately for Coloradans, that’s not a rhetorical question. At issue is the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — and it’s currently under assault.

Enacted by voters in 1992, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is a state constitutional amendment that protects Colorado taxpayers against the runaway spending that is threatening state budgets across the country and has driven many local governments into bankruptcy. It has two central components. First, voters may reject any proposed state tax increase, as they have by huge margins twice in recent years. Second, the state must issue tax refunds when total revenues for any given year outpace inflation and population growth.

That second component is now being threatened. 2015 is projected to be the first year since the 2008-09 recession that taxpayers are likely to be eligible for a refund — a refund of roughly $116 million. The principle supporting this refund is simple: Once government has sufficient funds to cover current operations and nominal growth, any excess revenues should be returned to the people who earned it and paid it in the first place: State taxpayers like you and me.

But a growing number of state politicians and pundits disagree. They argue the limits imposed by the Bill of Rights prevent the government from spending that money on important items. As a result, the argument goes, the state should keep the $116 million to spend on key infrastructure projects and K-12 education, which ostensibly are experiencing budget shortfalls. Continue reading

Feb 05

Forget Income Tax Refunds. Coloradans Might Get a Marijuana Refund! (Paid Out in Money, Not Pot)

Getty – Kevork Djansezian

Americans who are getting a jump on their income taxes may already be looking forward to receiving (and spending) their refund checks. But for those who live in Colorado, another type of rebate may be making its way toward their bank accounts: a “reefer refund”!

According to state law, Denver may be forced to return some of the money collected in recreational marijuana taxes during the first, full year of legal sales. Residents and tourists racked up $50 million in taxation revenue for Colorado in 2012.

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The state constitution contains an amendment referred to as a Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR), which was approved by voters almost a quarter-century ago. In addition to requiring all new taxes to receive the go-ahead from Colorado voters, TABOR also compels the state to issue refunds to taxpayers whenever it takes in too much money in revenues. The definition of “too much” is set by a complex formula that has been established under the law.

Since TABOR was passed, residents of the Rocky Mountain State have received these types of refunds six times, with total amounts ranging from about $40 million to over $1 billion.

Continue reading

Jan 30

The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Colorado’s TABOR law

POLITICS

The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Colorado’s TABOR law

By Mark K. Matthews
The Denver Post

POSTED:   01/12/2015 12:01:00 AM MST

Douglas Bruce, author of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, is pictured in 2005.

Douglas Bruce, author of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, is pictured in 2005.

 

WASHINGTON — If Colorado politics were like daytime TV, then the state’s controversial TABOR law would be its longest-running soap opera.

Few issues can match the drama — and staying power — of the 1992 measure, which has survived repeated attempts to dismantle its requirement that lawmakers get permission from voters before raising taxes.

Now, though, the so-called Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is getting a shot at prime time. As soon as Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of a lawsuit against TABOR.

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:
http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_27302332/supreme-court-is-considering-challenge-colorados-tabor-law

Jan 28

Legislative Coffee event kicks off

As the Colorado 2015 Legislative Session moves into full-swing, Morgan County stakeholders will begin discussions with representatives.

Stakeholders started those discussions Monday with the first Legislative Coffee event. Representatives from area businesses, Morgan County Economic Development Corporation, Morgan Community College, Brush Chamber of Commerce, Fort Morgan Area Chamber of Commerce, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Fort Morgan attended the event Monday at Café Lotus.

The small group met with State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and State Rep. Jon Becker to discuss bills and matters at the state legislative session.

The Legislative Coffee event on Monday followed a less formal format than usual, Becker said.

“Sometimes it’s more formal where people stand up and present, but it’s still early in the session,” Becker said.

The group discussed matters regarding tax on medical marijuana, faster internet services in the eastern plains and Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Continue reading

Jan 24

Colorado House GOP upset after Democrats kill school funding bill

By Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post

POSTED:   01/23/2015

(Denver Post file photo)

A House Republican says he can’t understand why his bill to give more money for education was killed by Democrats even though it had the support of the teachers’ union, school boards and superintendents.

“My bill would have directed unexpected surplus revenue to our schools,” said Rep. Jon Becker of Fort Morgan. “I can’t think of a better investment than our kids’ futures.”

He pointed out there was no opposition Wednesday when he presented House Bill 1058 to the Finance Committee, where it died on a 6-5 party-line vote.

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:
http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_27382176/colorado-house-gop-upset-after-democrats-kill-school?source=AP

Jan 21

Another clueless person who thinks we should keep on spending….

Another clueless person who thinks we should keep on spending….

RC Lloyd: Time for repeal of TABOR
Posted: 01/19/2015

As one ventures out to spend the soon-to-arrive Colorado tax refund checks, be certain to thank tax crusader, current Colorado Springs resident and former California lawyer Doug Bruce for his success in passing the TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) amendment to the Colorado Constitution.
However, as your Michelins touch the ever-deteriorating roadways and you’re savoring that Starbuck’s latte, keep in mind how hamstrung state coffers are due to the lack of any rainy day protection written into this misguided piece of legislation. Time for a repeal.
RC Lloyd
Longmont

http://www.dailycamera.com/letters/ci_27353762/rc-lloyd-time-repeal-tabor

Jan 19

House District 60 Rep. Jim Wilson: Getting down to business

Posted:   01/19/2015 02:28:32 PM MST

Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson

 

All the pomp, circumstance, speeches and hoopla are behind us and the task of legislating on behalf of the people is about to begin in earnest for the 70th General Assembly.

However, drama and subplots continue to weave their way through the fabric of the Chambers. Our Republican Caucus learned last week that our Assistant Minority Leader (Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada) was stepping down to accept a position as a JeffCo County Commissioner. Her departure sets up a struggle for her vacated position between Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Littleton (currently the Minority Whip) and Rep. Clarice Navarro, R-Pueblo (and maybe others – who knows…). Now the plot thickens — with Rep. Lawrence running for Assistant Minority Leader, the Whip position becomes open. To date, Rep. Tim Dore (R-Elizabeth) and Rep. Dan Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs) have thrown their hats into the ring. Just when we thought the campaigning was over…

The other side of the aisle is not without its own political maneuvering as the session opens. Strategies are already under way to recapture seats lost in the 2014 election. As an example, former Rep. Jenice May (D-Aurora) lost to Rep. JoAnn Windholz (R-Commerce City) by just more than 100 votes. Miraculously, former Rep. May is back on the House floor for the session as an “advisor” to House Speaker Hullinghorst (D-Boulder)! An interesting strategy to strengthen former Rep. May’s resume for a possible run at Rep. Windholz’s seat in 2016. And the beat goes on…

Brace yourself to be bombarded by a flood of acronyms this session. One of the “biggies” will be TABOR – the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Continue reading

Jan 16

Cadman applauds Hickenlooper’s conciliatory tone in state address

Yet Hickenlooper’s broad discussion of several issues facing the state – a speech that often did not bring up his own agenda – might have been purposeful. Unlike previous years, Hickenlooper refrained from calling out specific legislators or issues, a sign that he might be encouraging the split legislative body to work together, said Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, the newly appointed Senate president.

“I think what was interesting about this speech, as opposed to many others that I have heard, (was that) he talked in such broad categories that I think what he was really doing was inviting everybody to the table to discuss them,” Cadman said.

Hickenlooper was careful to call attention to elected leaders from the Republican Party in the House chamber, among them Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, who the governor credited as being one of the driving forces behind a program that brings independent contractors to Colorado communities.

“This further demonstrates that no one party has all the good ideas,” Hickenlooper said of Bach, a Republican, who was in the audience.

Continue reading

Jan 16

Hedges: The Colorado Conundrum

Hedges: The Colorado Conundrum

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “Colorado Paradox,” the fact that our state is one of the most educated in the country – but mainly because educated people from elsewhere move here.

Have you, though, heard of the “Colorado Conundrum”?
This is a situation wherein Colorado, a state with one of the fastest-growing economies in the country and among the lowest unemployment rates, will still find itself unable to restore funding to K-12 education and colleges cut during the Great Recession or fix its crumbling roads. It’s a situation wherein state revenues will see a gangbusters resurgence, but the state will simply have to hand back the money to taxpayers rather than being able to give back to taxpayers the services they enjoyed before the recession.

In short, despite having plenty of water, we’ll be turning off the firehose while the house is still in flames.

Despite hosting one of the fastest-growing economies in the country and one of the lowest unemployment rates, Colorado, will find itself unable to restore funding to K-12 education and colleges cut during the Great Recession or fix its crumbling roads.

Continue reading

Jan 16

Americans for Prosperity releases 2015 legislative agenda, and it’s a doozy

Do not expand Medicaid. Roll back renewable energy requirements. Thwart the EPA’s regulation of coal-fired power plants. Let charter schools run amok. Reform the tax code.

This is the 2015 legislative agenda released this morning by Americans for Prosperity, North Carolina a far-right advocacy group, one that would  “improve economic freedom and personal wellbeing.”   AFPNC-Legislative-Agenda.pdf

Whose economic freedom and personal wellbeing? Probably not yours.

AFP, whose backers include Art Pope and his various foundations, also supports Taxpayer Bill of Rights, otherwise known as TABOR. By appropriating the name “Bill of Rights,” from the U.S. Constitution, AFP wants to fool you into thinking TABOR will somehow stand between you and tyranny. Not so. Continue reading