Sep 19

Douglas Bruce responds to “Colorado lawmakers turn to ‘fees’ to avoid Taxpayer Bill of Rights limits”

Editor’s note.  Here are Douglas Bruce’s comments about this article.  They have been edited for space and clarity.

A reporter writes about TABOR (Taxpayers Bill Of Rights) and won’t interview its author.

TABOR does NOT use the “national inflation” rate, but the only Colorado CPI figures, which are for Denver-Boulder-Greeley.

Rep. Dan Thurlow says TABOR makes politicians “cheat” and thinks a statute (Referendum C) can amend a constitutional formula.  That is incorrect.

Colorado State University political science professor John Straayer doesn’t understand the state can still spend money any way it wants; it just can’t take a bigger share without voter approval. That is the major change to its “fiscal authority.”

Money for transportation and higher education has NOT “eroded.” It just has not increased at Straayers’ desired rate, and the sources of funding have changed so that user pay is a preferable source.

Referendum C was supposed to “solve the problem” of revenue control, and end in five years.  It did not solve the fictional “ratchet effect” problem and, twelve years later, we are losing $1 BILLION yearly in excess revenue refunds.  The anti-TABOR sides’ solution is to try another statutory change to the constitutional formula.

The state publicly says its total spending is about $27.1 billion yearly, almost three times what it was when TABOR passed.
I just found out that amount does not as it includes “continuing appropriations” NOT made by the JBC (Joint Budget Committee) annually.
That’s another two or three BILLION or more than the Colorado budget shows.

Douglas Bruce
TABOR author

 

Colorado lawmakers turn to ‘fees’ to avoid Taxpayer Bill of Rights limits

By Michael Carroll  /   September 11, 2017

Colorado state lawmakers increasingly engage in fiscal gymnastics to get around provisions of the state’s landmark Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), according to both supporters and critics of the state’s 25-year-old constitutional amendment. Continue reading

Sep 19

Governor Calls Special Session

PRESS RELEASE

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Contact:            Marty Neilson                303-747-2159

Governor Calls Special Session to Fix Legislative/Executive Goof UP!

If SB 267 wasn’t already enough of an affront to Colorado taxpayers, paying for a special legislative session to fix what our esteemed legislators and Governor failed to notice in the unconstitutional SB267 makes me “mad as hell” and “I don’t want to take it anymore!” Special sessions are expensive!   SB 267 starts off as unconstitutional (multiple subjects) piece of legislation; and, is an egregious violation of Taxpayers Bill of Rights (no vote by the people) for the tax and debt increases.   Mess ups like this do not constitute an immediate problem which must be addressed by immediate corrective legislation.  Governor expects legislature to ignore the constitution and simply tack on another illegal tax.

By the way, reinstating a sales tax requires a VOTE of the people. The Colorado Constitution is very clear: tax increases must be approved by a vote of the people. Calling on all Colorado taxpayers to go to the Capitol and demand “Let Us Vote!”

 

PO Box 1976, Lyons CO 80540 Taxpayer Hotline 303-494-2400
Web Site: www.coloradotaxpayer.org

 

Aug 10

TABOR Committee featured at national ALEC conference in Denver

TABOR Committee featured at national ALEC conference in Denver

Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) was in demand at the 44th Annual American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting held at the Hyatt Convention Center in Denver at the end of July. The TABOR Committee board of directors and friends presented the case (in a three hour workshop session) showing other states how to adopt measures similar to TABOR.  TABOR Committee Chairman Penn Pfiffner also addressed approximately 60 legislators and staff at a special session on July 28th concerning the importance of TABOR-like efforts in their own states.

TABOR is a Colorado constitution protection (approved by the voters of Colorado in 1992) that restrains tax increases to not greater than the sum of population growth and the rate of inflation without a vote of the people. It is the gold standard for all 50 states regarding sound fiscal responsibility. It protects the citizen’s right to be heard on tax increases that otherwise would not be subject to voter approval. It was because of TABOR that Colorado voters had the opportunity to recently reject two very large tax increases in Colorado. Amendment 66, a $1 billion tax increase proposal in 2013, and Amendment 69, a $25 billion tax increase proposal in 2016, were both soundly defeated at the ballot box by more than 60% of Colorado voters. TABOR made those votes possible.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives who draft and share model state-level legislation for distribution among state governments in the United States. ALEC provides a forum for state legislators and private sector members to collaborate on model bills—draft legislation that members may customize and introduce for debate in their own state legislatures. The ALEC annual meeting included keynote presentations by former US Speaker Newt Gingrich, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck, Kentucky Governor Matthew Bevin, and other national leaders.

Please visit www.thetaborfoundation.org to learn more about TABOR and how you can help protect Colorado voter’s right to be heard.

Jun 24

Guest editorial: Provider fee bait and switch evades TABOR

June 22, 2017 9:58 AM· By Brian Vande Krol

Little ole Colorado, you’ve done well for yourself. You were a collection of cow towns when I first moved here in 1988.  It was said that yogurt was the only culture in Colorado, and cowboys don’t eat yogurt.

Colorado is wealthy. Not DC wealthy, but quite a step up from the late 80’s. We rank 11th for median household income, have the 10th lowest unemployment rate, and the 14th lowest poverty rate. We have the Denver Performing Arts Center, and a growing system of subsidized trains.  Colorado is also healthy, ranking 10th.

One reason we have done well is our restrained state government. With our balanced budget requirement and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), government has a tough time taking more of our money. That means greater economic growth.

But 70% of our state’s roads and bridges are in poor or mediocre condition, and getting worse. And, despite all that wealth and health, 1 in 4 Coloradans depend on the government for healthcare (Medicaid).  The legislature wants more of your money, and is willing to close down hospitals to keep it.

The most cynical move of all

 The legislature argued for several years about the Hospital Provider Fee, an $800 million program, claiming it is solely responsible for exceeding TABOR revenue limits, a situation that would require refunds to taxpayers. (Yes, it’s actually a tax. They just call it a fee so they don’t have to ask perIcon_2016_Guest_Edmission to take the money.) But every revenue source is equally to blame for exceeding the limit. To appease their insatiable appetite for more revenue, the legislature moved the program out of the general fund so it is not subject to the revenue limits.  This is a crafty, deceptive scheme to avoid asking permission from voters to take more money, and to avoid refunding excess collections. They threatened to close rural hospitals if they didn’t get their way.

TABOR requires a change to the revenue limit if a program’s costs are moved off the books. It also requires TABOR to be interpreted to “reasonably restrain most the growth of government.” Instead of lowering the limit by $800 million, it was lowered only $200 million, resulting in a permanent $600 million per year tax increase.  (The $800 million will still be spent, but outside of the budget, leaving more room in the budget, and more taxpayer dollars to be taken and spent.)  Senate President Kevin Grantham (R, Canon City) believes that as long as there is a change, he has met the constitutional requirement. Continue reading

Mar 28

Douglas Bruce’s response to Rural Republicans tell lawmakers it’s time for action on Hospital Provider Fee

Let’s apply ten conservative political principles to this hospital provider fee situation.

 
  • 1. Limiting growth of state government requires setting state spending priorities.
  • 2. Allowing any business to fail that has insufficient market demand is called the free market. Government intervention violates the meaning of a free market.
  • 3. What does the most good for the most people–propping up failing businesses or providing broad benefits of limited government services equally to everyone?
  • 4. Who was forced to live in remote rural areas with fewer services? (No one.)

Continue reading

Mar 21

Changes to TABOR will hurt state taxpayers

Changes to TABOR will hurt state taxpayers

By Linda GormanGuest Columnist

A Republican-sponsored bill in the Colorado legislature would likely let state government keep more of your tax money whether it needs it or not.

In 2005, Referendum C suspended Colorado’s constitutional limit on the amount of tax revenues that the state could keep. Called the “TABOR timeout,” the Referendum allowed the state to reset the limit on state revenue collection at the highest amount of annual revenue received between June FY 2005-6 and FY 2009-10. Referendum C was a permanent tax increase, which has increased Colorado state spending by an estimated $2.6 billion over the last decade. At present, only 38 percent of state spending remains subject to TABOR.

Now the tax and spend coalition wants more.

Some state officials are understandably delighted by any measure that relieves them of the drudgery of running the state on a tight budget. It is much less taxing to be a state legislator when revenues are rising than when they are falling. When spending must be cut, difficult choices are required. No one is happy.

 

Continue reading

Mar 20

Shot at Bruce?

Shot at Bruce?

Peter Strescino’s TABOR article in The Chieftain of March 1 was balanced and informative.

But what is the purpose of the paragraph saying that ?“TABOR was passed in 1992 on its third try by Colorado tax rebel Doug Bruce” who has owned “run-down Pueblo properties in the past”?

Is it to show that in 1990 and 1991, legislators told voters, “Hey trust us; you voters don’t need TABOR to protect yourselves from tax increases,” and that voters believed twice — but not three times?

 Is it to show that Bruce passed TABOR by himself, as the writing implies or to show that thousands of voters did indeed rebel against … legislators and vote for themselves some participation when their taxes are being raised?

Is it to show that Bruce is really a Pueblo guy at heart because he, too, has owned run-down property in Pueblo, a city with a website dedicated to run-down property, a city with a newspaper that rightly criticizes run-down property, but a city with a municipal government that can’t seem to protect its citizens from the scourge of run-down property, and that such a state of affairs could lead taxpayers to rebel and to deny tax increases?

Is it to show that if you get lucky, the guy owning run-down property on your street might save his fellow citizens $3 billion?

Which brings us to the editorial in the same issue of The Chieftain. The editorial complains that the city government wants more money, but they don’t want to ask for it, as the law requires; they want to simply take it by calling a tax a fee.

I hope The Chieftain appreciates the irony. It is this disassembling by elected officials that is causing this discussion to occur and voters to rebel, but without the voter rebellion and approval of the TABOR law, your editorial would be a blank page — no discussion of taxes or of fees.

 Now comes the good part: Thank you to The Chieftain for covering these issues in a professional manner. Without newspapers going to the uncountable government meetings, how would the citizens be able to learn of the actions of the government? We can’t all go personally to these meetings, and heaven forbid the day that we might be at the mercy of some blotter in his basement to learn about the government.

Mark Clinard

Florence

http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/letters/shot-at-bruce/article_6703b242-0c38-11e7-bbe1-53a11e67d1e6.html

Mar 11

Dave Wallace: Ballot measure 1A

To the editor:

Reading through the mailing I received that was also sent out to all registered voters referring to Measure 1A it becomes very obvious the City believes it desperately needs additional funding which will be the outcome if 1A passes. I am in agreement that it probably is necessary providing the information presented to the public in this “Notice of Election” and along with the mailing that accompanied this month’s utility billing is in fact correct.

I do find myself somewhat troubled over several issues, I have yet to see a commitment from the city that during these times of economic struggle they assure the public their business will be run as efficiently as possible and they will focus on conducting business off of a priority list rather than the wish list.

 

Continue reading

Mar 11

Colorado’s Constitutional conundrum: Gallagher vs. TABOR amendments, and what it means for us

FYI. Posted as it mentions TABOR and you can see what the other side is saying….

EAGLE COUNTY — Call it the Colorado Conundrum.

Colorado homeowners in the next couple of years will see a property tax break, while our state government is forced to make budget cuts. That’s because we stand at the crossroads of a couple of constitutional amendments — Gallagher and the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

Tim Hoover is the communications director for the Colorado Fiscal Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan fiscal policy and analysis organization. They don’t have a dog in this fight, but if they did they’d root against TABOR.

“This is a profoundly serious problem. TABOR is not a watchdog. It’s a rabid dog,” Hoover said. “TABOR is literally threatening public safety.”

When the Gallagher Amendment intersects with TABOR, that causes problems, Hoover explained.

IT’S NOT COMPLICATED

That conflict is not as complicated as you might think, and it goes like this: Continue reading