Mar 10

Lessons from 30 Years of TEL Experience

Yes, you can get involved in your city or state.  TABOR gives citizens the right to vote yes or no on the government increasing your taxes.  To learn more, send an email to info@theTABORcommittee.com

The first tax and expenditure limitation (TEL) was proposed by California Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1972. In the years since then, numerous states have adopted TELs. By studying these laws, we have discovered principles and design concepts for effective tax limitation.

State TELS

In spring 1978, under the leadership of State Rep. David Copeland, the people of Tennessee adopted the first constitutional tax limitation measure in the nation, the work product of a state constitutional convention.

Then came Proposition 13 in California in June 1978. While not itself a TEL (it was primarily a limitation on the growth of property taxes), Prop. 13 was the catalyst that ignited a national tax revolt. Things began to happen quickly across the country:

  • Arizona, under the leadership of then-Senate Majority Leader Sandra Day O’Connor, adopted a TEL referendum in 1978.
  • In November 1978, Michigan adopted the Headlee Amendment, which restricted state spending as a share of personal income.
  • In 1979, California adopted a Prop. 1-type TEL (the Gann Limit) that for the first time limited the growth of state spending by measuring it against inflation and population or per-capita personal income growth, instead of a percentage of state personal income growth, which really tightened the year-over-year control over taxes and government spending.
  • Also in 1979, Washington State adopted a TEL (Initiative 62).
  • In 1980, Missouri adopted the Hancock Amendment, again using a percentage of state personal income growth as the measure.
  • In 1980, Massachusetts’s Prop. 2 ½ drew heavily on the language of California’s Prop. 1 in order to control the growth of local governments.

Lessons Learned

Many other states have since adopted constitutional or statutory controls. But many were not tough enough or sufficiently well enforced or honored to be effective. Circumvention began in earnest in Missouri as the legislature and courts played games with the revenue base and school financing. In California in 1989, wily Assembly Speaker Willie Brown corrupted the Gann Limit formula in a statewide initiative devoted to improving California’s roads and highways. Continue reading

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

Jan 23

Letter to the Editor: Taxes, taxes, taxes

Letter to the Editor:

Do the residents of Colorado work for the state government or does that government work for the citizen?

 If citizens work for the government, then government can charge the citizen any tax it wants to impose without restraint.

If the government works for the citizen, why can’t citizens decide what services they want to pay for?

TABOR is a law that limits the amount of taxes citizens are required to pay and in some cases requires the return of “surpluses” to the tax payer.

In effect, those who want to raise taxes must convince tax payers the added taxes are actually required.

Why is that bad?

Democrats in Denver want to reverse TABOR, as if it didn’t exist, and use the “surplus” for their purposes.

I think that if Democrats want to direct such “surplus” toward something other than what the law directs, they can set up a fund to allow those individuals who are so inclined to direct their “surplus” into that fund.

Thus the tax payer can determine if they get to spend or save their money instead of someone else spending it.

A note to Mike Littwin: check out Proposition 13 passed in California in 1978.

While not exactly like TABOR, Prop 13 limits raising property taxes thus protecting tax payers from unrestrained tax increases.

Steven P. Melcher

Pueblo West

– See more at: http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/3270685-120/taxes-tax-government-citizen#sthash.L4vM11iO.dpuf

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 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 15

Don’t punish taxpayers for prosperity

CAPITOL REVIEW
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 11

TABOR may put roadblock in front of I-70 fix

Editorials

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:
http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_27289664/tabor-may-put-roadblock-front-i-70-fix

 

Jan 09

Gregory Iwan: Another Tabor dividend

This week’s abysmal pothole experience on U.S. 36 points up yet again why we must get rid of TABOR. The funny thing is, with more toll roads and toll lanes in our near future, even a Rolls Royce or Land Rover is not immune to extreme Third-World kinds of road hazards.

When will the moneyed gentry realize that they are in “it,” too, with the rest of us? Everyone’s fate is the same.

Repeal TABOR, before al Qaeda decides to adopt Colorado as a vacation home. They’d feel right at home, with our mountains and rotten roads. And guns everywhere. But that’s for another day.

Gregory Iwan

Longmont

http://www.dailycamera.com/letters/ci_27284871/gregory-iwan-another-tabor-dividend

 

 

Dec 25

EDITORIAL: Colorado tax ‘refunds’ will cost taxpayers dearly

The insult to injury of the TABOR Amendment is back: Colorado must refund hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to state residents, despite the widespread public needs

BY THE AURORA SENTINEL

As hopeless as it might seem, Colorado must revisit the argument over its ludicrous state tax “refunds” that hurt the state and all of us much more than any individual actually benefits.

If you’re new to these parts, Colorado suffers under a unwieldy and complicated set of restrictive budget laws dubbed the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

The measure was a product of Colorado’s notorious anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce and misguided state voters who approved the state constitutional amendment in 1992. As it was sold to voters, the measure capped state taxes by requiring that tax increases be approved by voters. But the convoluted and labyrinthine measure does so much more. It not only caps taxes, but it caps spending. Part of the amendment sets government services at a baseline, so that when budgets decrease in lean tax years, a new, lower baseline is set, creating the so-called, dreaded ratchet-down effect.

Continue reading

Dec 25

TABOR rears its ugly head

 City Sage

Maybe not, because it’s TABOR time. When Colorado tax revenues increase too rapidly, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and its arcane provisions authored by Douglas Bruce kick in, forcing the state to refund “surplus” tax revenues or ask voters for permission to retain them.

The state constitutional amendment may have seemed simple, transparent and commonsensical to the voters who approved it in 1992, but it isn’t. Sold as a measure that took away the power to raise taxes from spendthrift elected officials, the measure was far more complex.

Bruce wrote every word of the lengthy amendment, explicitly designed to shrink, hobble and defund Colorado governments at every level.

TABOR limits government revenue increases to an annual figure determined by population growth plus inflation. That may sound reasonable, but Bruce’s simplistic formula doesn’t work. It has forced the state to make continual service cuts and defer infrastructure maintenance and construction, because the world Bruce envisioned bears little resemblance to the world we live in.

In the real world, tax revenues may vary sharply during any multi-year period. If revenues are flat for years before rebounding sharply, too bad! The revenue cap starts from zero every fiscal year. The 2005 passage of Referendum C mitigated TABOR’s effects for a few years, and the recession made it irrelevant for a few more. But now it’s back with a vengeance.

Continue reading