Sep 13

Opinion: Chuck Wibby: Kill the fee in wolf’s clothing

By Chuck Wibby

In 1992, Colorado voters passed the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. The amendment to the Colorado Constitution is widely despised by elected officials at every level of government. It is also widely loved by the majority of taxpaying citizens who pay the bills to employ those same elected officials.

Among its other provisions, TABOR contained an exemption for fee-based services that the government provides to citizens. It was a logical concession. After all, if the city wanted to operate a parking lot, it would be impractical to have a vote every time the city wanted to increase the cost to park your car in their lot.

TABOR’s intent was that “government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge” are “paid for by the individuals or entities that are purchasing the goods or services.” This is in contrast to “government agencies or programs that provide goods or services that are paid for by tax revenue.” Letting no good deed go unpunished, it didn’t take the state too long to figure out how to take advantage of TABOR’s allowance for fee-based enterprises.

To continue reading this TABOR story, please click (HERE):

Will You Make A Difference?

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Dear TABOR supporter,

You may be the right person to make a difference in your town.  You can help to protect the citizens of Colorado by protecting the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, but without taking a lot of your time and at no expense to you.

Much of the work of the TABOR Foundation includes taking legal action against taxation without a vote of the people.

But most of our efforts are directed toward educating voters about why the right to vote on the taxes that you and your neighbors pay is a good idea – as well as calling attention to the all-too-common attempts to eviscerate TABOR.

You can help!

We are recruiting TABOR supporters to be a part of our volunteer Communications Team.

The job is simple but very important. Continue reading

Jul 22

Voting at a time when voting makes sense!

Voting at a time when voting makes sense!

July 2020

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) includes good government provisions that improve election procedures.

We know that voter turnout is highest for those people who will benefit most directly by the ballot measure.  One way to suppress voter participation is to hold an election at an unusual time or at an unexpected, inconvenient, or difficult time.

Before the Taxpayer‘s Bill of Rights, Colorado elected officials could schedule a special election for a new tax or for a debt measure.  Held in, say, February, the government could hope weather to be really foul, so that even the average taxpayer who thought to vote on the measure might think twice, while those proponents who would benefit from the new tax would be in the majority for whom it was worth the effort to slog to the polls.

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights ended that incivility to the citizen.  With TABOR, a vote must happen on the November general election ballot, or if there is a standard election in the spring, (common for many town and city elections) the measure can appear on that municipal ballot.  The only other time a TABOR measure may go before the voters is in odd-numbered years at about the time in November that a general election would take place.

Colorado constitution (Article X, Section 20) paragraph 3(a) states:  “Ballot issues shall be decided in a state general election, biennial local district election, or on the first Tuesday in November of odd-numbered years.”

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights greatly improved government operations beyond providing the taxpayer the power to vote on tax increases.

#TABOR
#ItsYourMoneyNotTheirs
#ThankGodForTABOR
#VoteOnTaxesAndFees
#WhyTABORMatters

 

 

 

Jun 11

Mahaney: Have taxes been raised?

To quote the Pueblo West district manager as printed in the June 4, 2020 article headed “So Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?” In sub heading No. 4, the spin starts as “We are continuing to provide the same services as when Pueblo West originated and that is without a mill levy increase since 1971, which doesn’t allow for the cost of inflation of goods and services since 1971.

My “old daddy” once told me, figures don’t lie, but liars can figure. The two points the quote does not explain is that first property taxes have gone up. As the Pueblo County assessor reassess the value of a home the same mill levy generates a higher tax bill. Ask anyone if their property tax bill has gone up in the last two years. Property values tend to track with inflation.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) was made into law to restrain local government from expanding without taxpayer approval.

To continue reading this letter-to-the-editor, please click (HERE):

Jun 11

Editorial; Legislature plans to bury us in taxes

Never has one simple fact been so clear. Businesses fund everything. When shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19, the state government went from a nearly $1 billion revenue surplus to a $3 billion shortfall. Shuttered businesses don’t collect sales taxes, and their out-of-work employees don’t pay state income taxes.

Given the sorry state of our economy and state budget, business recovery should be the Legislature’s top priority. To help them recover and survive, lawmakers should reduce the burden of overhead. Give these struggling patients oxygen and support; bill them for it later.

Instead of helping businesses recover and survive, legislators want more money from them immediately. Toward that self-destructive end, Democrats introduced House Bill 1420 on Monday and passed it out of committee Tuesday with the session ending this week.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

May 28

From An Editorial On May 5, 2019: State Could Go Off A Fiscal Cliff

State could go off a fiscal cliff

By: Barry W Poulson
May 5, 2019

Colorado has created a fiscal cliff; the state is woefully unprepared for the revenue shortfall that will accompany the next recession. Citizens might be surprised to learn that the state has been pursuing imprudent policies that will result in a fiscal crisis when the next recession hits. It is important to understand how the fiscal cliff was created and what we can do about it.

Over the past two decades, Colorado has weakened the fiscal constraints imposed by the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights. TABOR limits the rate of growth in state spending to the sum of inflation plus population growth, regardless of the amount of revenue the state takes in.

But most state revenue is exempt from the TABOR limit. The exempt funds include the revenue from enterprises and the fees collected by government agencies, which have grown rapidly over this period. As a result, over the past decade TABOR has not constrained the growth in spending, and this year the state will spend virtually every dollar of revenue it takes in.

The fiscal cliff is also linked to a rapid growth in debt and unfunded liabilities. While limits are imposed on general obligation debt, there are no limits on the issuance of revenue bonds. These are bonds with a dedicated stream of revenue used to pay off the bonds over time. As state enterprises have grown they have saddled the state with greater debt burdens.

Increasing debt is also incurred in the form of unfunded liabilities. Despite the recent reforms enacted in the Public Employees Retirement Association, unfunded liabilities continue to increase. The official estimate of these unfunded liabilities is $32 billion; but with realistic assumptions regarding rates returns on assets, the actual unfunded liabilities are estimated to be in excess of $100 billion. Continue reading

May 26

TABOR and COVID 19: We’re All Gonna Pay

TABOR and COVID 19: We’re all gonna pay

Blog post by Christine Burtt
5/26/2020 – 4 minute read

Let’s face it.  You can’t shut down the economy, borrow trillions of dollars to subsidize households and businesses, and cause massive unemployment in the private sector without getting seriously upside down in tax revenues.

The Colorado state budget will be about $3.3B in the hole for FY2021, and that doesn’t include deficits in county and special district budgets.

If Legislatures over the years had honored the requirement of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to stash away an emergency fund, we’d have roughly $1B in cash right now.  Instead of a lockbox of cash, illiquid government buildings were determined to be assets counted toward the emergency fund. Anybody have cash to buy a government building?  But I digress….

In the Democrat-controlled Colorado Legislature, raising taxes is the easy answer to a budget shortfall. The short-term exercise is to reconcile what is “essential” vs “nice to have.”

In reality, government mandated services like administering food stamps, running elections, law enforcement, infrastructure, and paying public employee retirement benefits will be protected. But other programs funded for ideological wish-lists may be delayed – until they can raise taxes.

The most likely ways to raise taxes include: Continue reading

May 19

Worst Public Pension Quarterly Results Reported-Reality Is Far Worse

Public pensions, including PERA, had their worst investment return quarter ever in 1Q20. State pensions, on average, lost 13.2% in the quarter. However, the losses are worse than reported due to secrecy agreements in place regarding their alternative investments position. These highly speculative investments in the PERA portfolio do not have to be reported now. This reality will exacerbate the financial condition of PERA, and other state pensions, and will motivate states, like Colorado, to scream for taxpayer relief. PERA’s funding ratio declined in the very good times (and stock market boom from 2009 to 2019.) The funding ratio will decline even ffurther in the current economic. The coronavirus economy will show that their financial health is now even more problematic. Colorado taxpayers will be the target to bail these pensions out yet again. Taxpayers already contribute more than 2X to PERA than private sector employers contribute to Social Security. For more, see this Forbes analysis:

 

Worst Public Pension Quarterly Results Reported-Reality Is Far Worse

Edward Siedle Contributor


Public pensions just reported their worst quarterly investment performance in over a decade. Thanks to secrecy agreements, reporting delays and valuation wiggle-room granted to hedge funds, private equity, real estate, infrastructure, venture capital and other private asset managers, the full extent of public pension losses has not been disclosed to pension stakeholders.

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Public pensions just reported their worst quarterly investment performance in over a decade. But results related to 25%-50% of their riskiest investments aren’t included. Thanks to secrecy agreements, reporting delays and valuation wiggle-room granted to hedge, private equity, real estate, infrastructure, venture capital and other private asset managers, the full extent of the losses has not been disclosed to pension stakeholders. Complicity with Wall Street allows public pensions to avoid accountability and push bad performance results off until the next quarter, year or even decade.

To continue reading this Forbes article, please click (here):