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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Jan 15

Don’t punish taxpayers for prosperity

Mark Hillman, 15 January 2015

Colorado’s economy has shown remarkable resiliency in the wake of the Great Recession.

Unemployment has steadily fallen from a high of 9.6% in 2010 to an estimated 4.1% in November 2014.

Income indicators roared past pre-recession levels and now both wages and salary and per capita income are significantly higher.

In the past five years, taxes and fees paid by Coloradans to their state government have grown by 43% from $8.5 billion to an estimated $12.3 billion in the current year.

And next year, state revenue could surpass the state’s spending limit for the first time in 15 years, triggering a modest rebate to taxpayers of $116 million or 0.4% of next year’s state budget.

But those in the Government Always Needs More Money Choir just can’t stand this prosperity. They are howling that that this modest refund – and perhaps future refunds, if the economy continues to grow – are somehow strangling our state government.

Remember, these rebates to taxpayers were approved by voters in the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) – the same law that requires a public vote on tax increases. Politicians and “the spending lobby” had resisted such limits for years.

Thirteen years after TABOR passed, voters approved Referendum C to correct the one obvious flaw in TABOR by allowing state government spending to rebound as the economy recovers from a recession. Continue reading

Jan 15

Former Gov. Roy Romer tells Hickenlooper to lead a ‘movement’ to repeal TABOR

Former Gov. Roy Romer tells Hickenlooper to lead a ‘movement’ to repeal TABOR

RomerDemocrat Roy Romer holds his final press conference in January 1999 as he prepares to leave office after 12 years as Colorado governor. (The Denver Post)

Gov. John Hickenlooper invited three former Democratic governors to offer advice for his second term at his inaugural celebration Tuesday evening.

It started lighthearted with former Gov. Dick Lamm. But then former Gov. Roy Romer gave him an earful.

“This is an evening both of fun and seriousness,” Romer started. “I’m going to be the serious part.”

“My advice is, governor, lead a movement in this state to repeal the TABOR amendment,” he said to cheers from the crowd at the Fillmore Auditorium, where guests paid $100-a-plate to attend. “We need to invest in the future of our children’s education and the infrastructure of this state. We need to return that power, that authority, that decision, to the people’s representative, the legislature and the governor.”

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

Jan 15

Simplicity The Key To Asking To Spend TABOR Funds

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Jan 11

With first Senate bill, Cadman takes aim at TABOR rebates


The first batch of state Senate bills popped into the online queue Wednesday, hours after session ended. But one was missing at first: Senate Bill 1, reserved for President Bill Cadman.

Now it’s online, and it’s a big one. The measure would change how the state awards refunds under the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — essentially shifting who gets the most money back when the state exceeds its TABOR revenue cap.

It’s a complicated topic, but the analysts at the Colorado Fiscal Institute broke it down. (Spoiler alert: The left-leaning policy organization actually likes the bill.)

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

Jan 11

TABOR may put roadblock in front of I-70 fix


By The Denver Post Editorial Board

Posted:   01/10/2015

A simulation of what the cap would like like over Interstate 70 through the Swansea neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Department of

A simulation of what the cap would like like over Interstate 70 through the Swansea neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation)

Thanks to constraints of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the funding for the reconstruction of Interstate 70 through north Denver has fallen apart, outgoing state transportation director Don Hunt told us the other day.

The state is expected to give back at least $137 million to Coloradans for fiscal year 2015-16 in the form of a TABOR rebate, and for complicated reasons that rebate will seriously impact transportation and capital construction funds.

It is further evidence that even in these heady economic times, TABOR is proving to have destructive impacts on basic government services.

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


Jan 10

It’s Not Our Money to Spend – You Earned It – You Spend It

It’s Not Our Money to Spend – You Earned It – You Spend It

The 2015 Colorado State Legislative Session brings a number of big issues to the forefront for the Legislature and the people of Colorado: energy development, the marijuana industry, gun restrictions; the list can go on and on with topics that will change the lives of many Coloradans. One topic that has just as much prominence, and has made a big wave among concerned legislators is the tax refund issue and TABOR.  If you read nothing further, please take this advice…HOLD ON TO YOUR WALLETS COLORADO TAX PAYERS.

The exact repayment figures and who would qualify remains unclear, but analysts estimate $137 million in TABOR refunds for the 2015 fiscal year.

Many Democrats in the State Legislature aren’t realizing that there are some positives to TABOR.  I’m already hearing some on the other side of the aisle offering the tired rhetoric that TABOR makes it harder to restore budget cuts, but in reality, TABOR is a system that provides some benefits.  TABOR prevents government overspending, and frankly, I am appalled that there is even the consideration of not returning this money to the people of Colorado.  This is money that they are legally entitled to.

An economic viewpoint is, yes, the TABOR refunds will be taking surplus money from the government and giving it back to the people of Colorado. That does not mean that this money will not be put to use to benefit the state as it would if it was left in the hands of politicians. Most people will use this money to pay their bills, some will save it, and some will impulsively spend it. The increase of investing, saving, and consuming will expand the private sector and benefit Colorado’s economic growth. TABOR keeps the growth of the government in line with the growth of the private sector thus creating more economic stability, which in turn benefits everyone.

The people of Colorado enacted TABOR in 1992; therefore by law, it is money that belongs to the people of Colorado. There is always something that the government can spend excess money on, no matter the amount of money the state has control of.  Politicians will always find something to allocate it towards. The plain and simple fact of it is, the excess money is not the state’s money in the first place, and that money belongs to the tax payers of Colorado. It is our duty as fiscally responsible representatives of the people of the state of Colorado to honor the TABOR refund and honor the people of Colorado. The people who earned it know best how to spend it.

Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff
State Representative