Jun 12

Guest Commentary: Freedom’s 800th birthday

 

By Douglas Bruce
 Douglas Bruce, the author of the Taxpayer s Bill of Rights, in 2012 filed an objection to Amendment 64. (Denver Post file)
Douglas Bruce, the author of the Taxpayer s Bill of Rights, in 2012 filed an objection to Amendment 64. (Denver Post file)

 

Tradition accepts June 15, 1215, as the start of limited government in Anglo-American law. Magna Carta (“the great charter’) was signed under duress by King John. John was the brother and successor to Richard the Lion Heart, whose loyal subjects included that tax rebel, Robin Hood. King John was known for his predatory and avaricious taxation.

Monarchs proclaimed the divine right of kings, asserting their absolute power came directly from God. English barons rejected King John’s tax tyrannies and other autocratic acts. Magna Carta ordained that even a king must honor the law. He could no longer summarily jail or execute any one without due process of law. Taxes would be limited; some would require baronial consent. A council of 25 barons could restrain the king’s illegal actions by seizing his lands and castles until he obeyed the law.

Magna Carta has a turbulent legacy. Over later centuries, it was rejected, affirmed, and revised. It has survived to be idealized as the first formal adoption of the Rule of Law.

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:

 

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_28296295/guest-commentary-freedoms-800th-birthday

 

Jun 06

You vote: What should Colorado do with pot taxes?

DENVER—For the third time since 2012, Colorado voters will decide a ballot question on the sales of recreational marijuana.

This year, voters will be asked to prevent a refund of the first year’s marijuana taxes that has been triggered by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) in the state constitution.

VOTE in the 9NEWS Morning poll: Colorado voters will decide in November if the State will keep an estimated $58 million in marijuana revenue. Should the state, keep it or return it? Vote below or click here:

Even though the expected $58 million raised by taxing pot in the first fiscal year of sales is roughly $10 million lower than predicted, TABOR requires a refund of the tax because state economists underestimated the overall size of today’s state budget back in 2013.

This requirement of TABOR only applies to newly-enacted taxes and also will require the state to switch the tax off one time only, resulting in a tax holiday on the special sales tax for pot this September.

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) signed HB 1367 on Thursday, which will create a 2015 ballot question asking voters to block a marijuana tax refund. Continue reading

May 28

ColoradoCare is a $25 billion trojan horse

“A new health care tax? Aguilar needs to give it a rest. She’s been pushing this unpopular idea for years. Coloradans need to know who is supporting this trojan horse proposal. The worst of the proposal is that it would exempt future revenues from this new tax from TABOR. A board would then be able to crank up taxes on Coloradans at their own whim.” – Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado.

While Initiative 20 proponents and the ColoradoCareYES campaign are ramping up their campaign to foist a trojan horse tax hike on Coloradans, supporter state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, has been rather quiet. 


Aguilar killed her own universal health care bill during the 2013 legislative session because it was so unpopular. That bill was charged as being a “$16 billion dollar tax increase,” while still large pales in comparison to the newer $25 billion price tag that’s been estimated this year.

“A new health care tax? Aguilar needs to give it a rest. She’s been pushing this unpopular idea for years. Coloradans need to know who is supporting this trojan horse proposal. The worst of the proposal is that it would exempt future revenues from this new tax from TABOR. A board would then be able to crank up taxes on Coloradans at their own whim.” – Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado.

Analysts have debated in the past about the ability to truly figure out cost projections. According to CBS-4, Aguilar’s universal health care plan was so unprecedented and sweeping that cost projections weren’t available. Continue reading

May 23

Ballot measures impact bill signed into law

Ballot measures impact bill signed into law

The Colorado Statesman

A new law will allow Colorado voters to know the fiscal impact of a ballot measure before petitions are circulated — a heavily debated effort that seemed doomed in the final hours of the recent legislative session.

The state had already been required to provide voters with cost-impact estimates of ballot measures, prior to an election. But House Bill 1057, which was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday, accelerates that process so that voters will know a proposal’s cost before they are asked to sign a petition.

In addition to fiscal impact estimates appearing in voter Blue Book election guides, the new law requires that estimates of a measure’s impact on government revenues, spending, taxes and fiscal liabilities be summarized on initiative petitions.
“Shouldn’t we know what the fiscal impact is going to be if we are going to propose putting something into the Constitution?” said Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, a bill sponsor.

Court said that fiscal notes are attached to bills before being considered by lawmakers and that the public should be afforded that same information. The Colorado Legislative Council makes those calculations for lawmakers and is also responsible for preparing fiscal impact statements for ballot initiatives.

Continue reading

May 13

Gov. Hickenlooper still pushing plan that could reduce TABOR refunds

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks to members of the media during a news conference inside his office at the state Capitol, in Denver, Thursday, May 7, 2015.

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Just weeks before the Colorado Legislature wrapped up its 2015 session, Gov. John Hickenlooper introduced a proposal that, in a few years, would result in the state having more money to put towards transportation and education, but reduce refunds to taxpayers. Though the proposal failed, Hickenlooper said he’ll continue to push it in coming months.The governor had proposed reclassifying a fee paid by hospitals so that it does not count against the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, limit. TABOR dictates that if the state collects more than a certain amount of tax revenue, it must return excess revenue to citizens. Hickenlooper said other fees don’t count against that limit, and the hospital fee shouldn’t either.

The proposal didn’t get any Republican support in the session that ended last Thursday, in part because lawmakers said they didn’t want to take any TABOR refund money back from taxpayers.

Hickenlooper said he took the idea public after months of working behind the scenes to build momentum for it.

“We got to the point where it didn’t seem likely that we were going to achieve a compromise, so we wanted to let the public have a debate, because there are two sides to the argument,” the governor added.

He said he still believes a compromise is possible, and said he will work on that for next year’s legislative session.

Along with the governor’s tax proposal, in his regular conversation with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner, Hickenlooper said he’s “leaning towards a veto” of two bills that could ban red light cameras and photo speeding enforcement. He also talked about his support for ending a ban on crude oil exports and reflected on Denver’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, which started under his leadership a decade ago.

 

– See more at: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/gov-hickenlooper-still-pushing-plan-could-reduce-tabor-refunds#sthash.thHjnooQ.dpuf

May 02

House Dems pushing fee change to prevent future TABOR refunds

House Dems pushing fee change to prevent future TABOR refunds | CPR

Democrats in Colorado’s state House are moving forward with an ambitious plan to hold onto hundreds of millions of dollars the state would otherwise have to send back to taxpayers.

Revenues are growing fast enough that the state will soon start sending out tax refunds as required by the Taxpayers Bills of Rights. But budget writers warn those refunds will make it a tough financial situation that much harder. K-12 schools and Medicaid are expected to consume most of the new money Colorado brings in over the next few years, leaving little left over for other areas, like higher education and transportation.

House Speaker Dickie Lee Hullinghorst believes she’s found a way around that squeeze. She wants to reclassify a major fee paid by hospitals in a way that makes it exempt from TABOR limits. That change would lower the total revenue amount covered by TABOR enough keep the state from having to pay refunds for years, giving lawmakers hundreds of millions more dollars to direct to state services.

Continue reading

Apr 30

TABOR: What it does and why it’s important

 

TABOR: What it does and why it’s important – Journal Advocate

In 1992, Colorado voters did something no other state in the country had done: They amended our state constitution to include the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, commonly known as TABOR. This new constitutional amendment requires every tax increase to be approved by the voters and limits the amount of revenue the state can keep. While critics of TABOR claim such stringent restrictions have hampered Colorado’s economy, an examination of the amendment’s provisions reveals how it actually helps keep our taxes low and government lean, and is helping Colorado recover faster than many other states.

Rep. Jon Becker R-Fort Morgan

Rep. Jon Becker R-Fort Morgan

Perhaps the most widely-known provision of TABOR is the requirement that all tax increases be approved by a majority of Colorado voters. In any given year, the state legislature is faced with numerous budget decisions, but rather than simply allow the legislators to enact tax increases to fund projects as they see fit, voters must approve these increases. Think back to Amendment 66 in 2013, which called for a $1 billion tax increase for education. Citizens overwhelmingly defeated this measure, 66 to 34 percent, sending a message that an increase in school funding should come from existing resources and not new taxes. The result meant the legislature had to make some hard decisions, but since Amendment 66, we have directed more than an additional $200 million dollars of existing resources into K-12 education.

 

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Apr 26

As session wraps up, major work remains for Colorado lawmakers

Colorado lawmakers begin a mad dash to the finish next week with more than a dozen significant bills in limbo and the session’s clock set to expire.

The final flurry before the May 6 adjournment is typical each session, but this year it is complicated by a divided legislature seeking elusive common ground on a wide range of issues and a series of late bills with huge implications.

The new bills include a repeal of the sales tax on soft drinks, a new$3.5 billion transportation bonds package, two resolutions to cut the length of the legislative session, an opt-out for mail ballots, the renewal of a state consumer watchdog and a ballot measure on how to spend $58 million of marijuana taxes.

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:

 

http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_27985297/session-wraps-up-major-work-remains-colorado-lawmakers?source=JBarTicker

Apr 25

Gov’s TABOR plan draws lukewarm reception | The Colorado Statesman

The 2015 legislative session began with Gov. John Hickenlooper touting the state’s economic successes. It may end with him lamenting the economic problems that couldn’t be solved.

Last week, the governor sent lawmakers a letter, suggesting how they could resolve contradictory fiscal laws that limit the state’s ability to fund certain infrastructure priorities.

The problems? Not enough money for transportation projects, especially repairs to roads and bridges, with an estimated cost of $3.5 billion. And K-12 education is still almost $1 billion short of its Amendment 23-required levels. At the same time, the state is poised to start sending hundreds of millions of dollars back to residents through refunds required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

In the letter, the governor laid the blame on two laws from 2009. On the revenue side is the hospital provider fee, which the governor criticizes for pushing state revenue above TABOR limits and forcing refunds. The fee is expected to bring in $532.3 million in this fiscal year. In 2015-16, that grows to $688.5 million, according to Hickenlooper’s letter.

The fee counts as cash fund revenue under TABOR, and wasn’t anticipated when revenue caps were set in 2007-08.

Continue reading