We disagree. TABOR is the will of the voters.
What do you expect from Carol Hedge’s party when they can’t tax, tax, and tax some more so they can spend, spend, spend until Daddy takes the T-Bird away…. TABOR only says you can’t raise taxes without the voters approving the tax.
Like HAL 9000, TABOR’s programming overrides will of voters
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR as most Coloradans know it, is frequently acclaimed as carrying out the will of voters. But as recent events show, it’s doing the opposite.
Would Colorado voters really have approved TABOR in 1992 if they had known it could prevent their communities from accepting state emergency funds after natural disasters like wildfires and floods? Would they have voted for TABOR if they’d known that it could unexpectedly cut taxes on marijuana that voters had overwhelmingly approved in two elections?
Rather than being a tool used to express the people’s will, TABOR works more like a computer with a mind of its own that carries out its preprogrammed mission automatically, oblivious to voters and to their elected officials.
We now have a new political structure – the HAL 9000 form of governance, modeled after the mellow-voiced but malevolent-minded computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Many Coloradans know TABOR mandates tax elections. But it does so much more. Continue reading
There’s good news and bad news for Coloradans as the annual state budget battle looms.
The good news, if you tend to focus on the revenue side of the ledger, is that the state is relatively flush with cash at the moment.
This helps explain the extra spring in the step one notices in legislators, lobbyists and special interests swarming the capitol, as they imagine all the wonderful things they can do with that windfall.
But this can also be bad news if you tend (as I do) to take the taxpayer’s point of view, since the resulting feeding frenzy could leave little thought to socking-away savings or returning a dividend to taxpayers as required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
You must remember TABOR, approved by voters back in the early 1990s? It’s been an invaluable ally to the state’s bill-payers ever since, which also makes it the bane of politicians and spending interests, who deeply resent the restraints it imposes on their ability to tax and spend at will.
Every budget season the debate stirs anew over whether TABOR has been good or bad for the state. And this year that debate has taken on a new urgency for a number of reasons. Continue reading
The Democrats’ thorough contempt of voters and popular democracy is endless. It has surfaced again in the lawsuit filed by party lawmakers against the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). The citizenry adopted this amendment to the state constitution in 1992, partially in reaction to the extravagant handouts and giveaways of the government to private businesses and the scam of Denver International Airport.
Ever since its passage, the governing class has raged against it. This refers to the political elite. Far from seeing themselves as representatives of the public, designed to get the government to work for everyday people, they are essentially representatives of the government who try to impose the dictates of the bureaucracy on the populace. They particularly call for ever greater pay for public officials, seeing themselves as the enlightened guardians of civilization while they surround public buildings with goons to defend the government from the populace. Such ideologues rail against TABOR precisely beside it is designed to check the usual plunder of officeholders with their giveaways to politically well-connected donors.
While endlessly attacking TABOR, the governing class has never tried to repeal it through an open and honest referendum. Rather, as is its wont, it has employed stealth. Its latest scheme is a federal lawsuit, claiming the act is unconstitutional because it ties the hands of lawmakers in deciding how much they can tax the populace. In other words, rather than having the courts respect the decision of the electorate, the governing class wants sweeping judicial intervention whereby appointed jurists, with no public accountability, will allow it to have its way despite the mandate of the citizenry. Precisely such policies and arrogance are what fuel the massive alienation of the citizenry from the government. For so illustrating their elitism and contempt for everybody except their cherished government, those pushing the TABOR suit are an Associate Naysayer of the Month.
By Brian Vande Krol
To fee, or not to fee. That is the question.
Whether ’tis Nobler in the wallet to suffer
The Fees and Enterprises of outrageous Governance,
Or to file suits against CBE,
And by opposing end them?
A Colorado organization has filed an appeal to overturn a Denver District Court finding about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). We believe the trial court erred in finding that Colorado’s Bridge Enterprise (CBE) conforms to TABOR.
In 2010, the legislature created the CBE to repair and maintain bridges. The CBE was called an “enterprise” so it could issue debt without a vote of the people, as is otherwise required by TABOR. The CBE already has issued $300 million in debt and plans more (up to $1 billion).
An enterprise is a government-owned, self-supporting business, which is exempt from TABOR restrictions. The legislature also authorized the CBE to impose a new charge on vehicle registrations. Known as the bridge safety surcharge, it was designated for repair and maintenance of state-owned bridges. But the CBE had a problem. Because the charge is not a fee for service, it functioned like a tax, which requires a vote of the people.
Disinclined to allow Colorado’s constitution to stand in the way, the CBE called it a fee and hoped the label alone would be enough to avoid a tax election.
In 2012, the TABOR Foundation sued to reverse the tax and stop the issuance of more debt, arguing that the fee is actually a tax, and that the CBE is not a qualified enterprise and cannot issue debt without a vote of the citizens of Colorado. Continue reading
The Court of Appeals’ Anti-TABOR Decision
The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuitrecently refused to dismiss the suit by various public sector interests to invalidate Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). The plaintiffs claim that TABOR violates Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. That provision is called the Guarantee Clause because it guarantees that the states will have republican forms of government.
The Guarantee Clause was designed to prevent states from becoming monarchies, dictatorships, or anarchies. It is totally inapplicable to TABOR,which simply requires that certain conditions—such as popular votes or legislative supermajorities—be met before the legislature can make designated increases in taxes, spending and debt. Although it is common in Colorado to claim TABOR is “unique,” in fact, it is only one of the stronger fiscal-restraint provisions that appear in the constitutions of 49 states. (The exception is Vermont.)
Restraints of this kind are called “TELs”—tax and expenditure limitations. Even the U.S. Constitution imposes such restraints on Congress. For example, it requires direct taxes, other than the income tax, to be apportioned among states by population, and it imposes a flat ban against taxes on exports. Continue reading
Thirty-three hifalutin members of Colorado’s political elite — state legislators, former legislators, board of education officials, city and county politicians, and assorted insiders — are whining as plaintiffs in what’s called a federal case.
Why? They lost an election … in 1992! Now, as the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals put it, “Plaintiffs claim that they have been deprived of their power over taxation and revenue.”
Over 22 years ago, Coloradans petitioned the Taxpayer Bill of Rights onto the ballot and voters passed it. Known as TABOR, the constitutional amendment limits the growth of government spending, unless voters approve higher spending levels. It also requires voter approval for tax increases, except in an emergency. The politicians objected at the time, but have since lacked both the courage and the democratic sensibility to take the issue back to the people.All this by routine.
Instead, they’re suing to overturn the result. Continue reading
In 1992 the people of Colorado voted to amend their Constitution with adoption of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). This was a historic initiative that put the power in the hands of the people to decide for themselves whether to approve new taxes or tax-hikes. While many states have constitutional protections to prevent new or increased taxes—such as California’s requirement of a supermajority vote in the legislature—Colorado’s TABOR was unique in that it made the citizens of the state the final word on new taxes or increased taxes. TABOR therein served as a model that has been implemented through constitutional amendments in other states, and which NFIB has supported as a means of protecting small business owners from new and ingenious taxing schemes. But TABOR is under attack—and this may have profound implications, not only in Colorado but throughout the country.
TABOR’s Legal Challenges
TABOR was upheld as constitutional in the Colorado Supreme Court last year in the face of a lawsuit advanced by educators and the parents of school-aged children who complained that TABOR makes it harder for schools to get necessary funding. NFIB Small Business Legal Center filed in that case to defend the law, and we were pleased to see the Court ultimately affirm the constitutionality of TABOR. But TABOR faces yet another challenge—this time in federal court. Continue reading
Voters have right to decide state, local taxes
Former Congressman David Skaggs and former state Sen. Mike Feeley have filed a lawsuit contending that it’s a violation of your federal constitutional rights to allow you to vote on whether or not to raise your state and local taxes. Because taxpayers and not legislators have the final say on tax increases, they think we have “too much democracy” in Colorado.
I’m confident the courts will ultimately conclude otherwise.
Reasonable people can and do disagree about the wisdom of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). And many Coloradans, including myself, believe it’s far too easy to amend our state constitution. But there’s nothing unconstitutional about allowing voters to decide important issues, including whether to raise their taxes.
The plaintiffs claim that letting citizens decide whether taxes are raised violates the “Guarantee Clause” of the U.S. Constitution. In the Guarantee Clause, the United States guarantees each state will have a “republican form of government.” It was intended by our founders to suppress any lingering monarchical tendencies in the original states. They wanted to ensure that Virginians couldn’t make George Washington or Thomas Jefferson a king of their commonwealth, even if they wanted to. The constitutional provision was intended to preserve power to the people, not take it from them. Continue reading
Take back the power to set state fiscal policy
When we were new members of the Colorado legislature in the 1980s and ’90s, we hoped colleagues would see the merit in bills we introduced and, of course, approve them. It didn’t take long to realize that fellow legislators would be more skeptical about our ideas — as we would be of theirs.
Our proposals — often drawn from conversations with constituents — were subject to scrutiny in committee hearings, floor debates and endless conversations with all manner of interested parties.
That challenging and sometimes tedious process demonstrated then, as it does now, the wisdom of the Founders in drafting a constitution that requires every state to have a “republican form of government,” a representative democracy.
The Founders recognized that the public interest is best served when complex and controversial issues receive careful review by representatives who have the time, commitment and expertise to hold hearings, take testimony, examine evidence, debate their differences and work out necessary compromises. That is the way a diverse society with often conflicting interests can resolve difficult issues responsibly and respectfully. Continue reading