May 12

Analysis: Colorado judges continue to erode taxpayer rights

Analysis: Colorado judges continue to erode taxpayer rights

Colorado Supreme Courtroom in the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center

Nagel Photography | Shutterstock.com

Over the last 25 years, the Colorado courts have consistently legislated from the bench to weaken the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), two prominent advocacy groups committed to limited government assert. A recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling is one among many that “weakened taxpayer’s rights,” they argue.

Voters approved TABOR on Nov. 3, 1992, which then became part of the state constitution after the governor issued a proclamation on Jan. 14, 1993.

TABOR requires voter approval of most tax and debt increases. It also requires each government to reserve a percentage of non-debt-service spending (an amount that has fluctuated) for emergency reserves. It states that TABOR “shall reasonably restrain most of the growth of government. All provisions are self-executing and severable and supersede conflicting state constitutional, state statutory, charter, or other state or local provisions.” Continue reading

Apr 28

Colorado’s Gubernatorial Race 2018: The Hot Topics

 

Photo courtesy of Amanda Croy

Colorado’s Gubernatorial Race 2018: The Hot Topics

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Talking Points

The topics that will dominate candidates’ messaging throughout the campaign season.

Growth

It is the best of times…or is it the worst of times? That depends a lot on how you feel about Colorado’s growth. “Normally, the economy would be the highest issue for most voters,” Paul Teske, a dean at CU Denver, says. “There will be a lot of talk about sustaining the boom.” But, adds DU’s Seth Masket: “There are a lot of different areas of the state that are adversely affected by this growth.” Transportation has become a perennial funding battle at the Capitol and could benefit from strong gubernatorial influence (read: political pressure) to make Republicans and Democrats find bipartisan ways forward. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Colorado is three percent (it was 8.9 percent at the end of 2010), which on its face is great news, but that near-full employment causes woes for companies desperate to fill jobs. Wages—particularly in the metro area—haven’t kept up with cost-of-living expenses, which means that although people are finding work, they may not be able to pay bills. And the biggest expense for many voters is rising housing costs. Mix that all together, and the moment is prime for a gubernatorial candidate to stand out by creating a unique vision for Colorado’s future.

Education

This may seem like a topic that matters most to people who are raising families, but this year, candidates will compel everyone to think about Colorado’s education system (funding here ranks in the bottom third of all states in the country). Which makes sense: Property owners help pay for schools, employers benefit from a well-prepared workforce, and we all want the best for society’s youngsters, right? But how we ensure we have a strong education system is quite a bit more complicated. Magellan Strategies’ David Flaherty says Republican candidates should be talking about education right now and through November. “It’s the one issue we completely give to the Democrats,” Flaherty says. “It’s unfortunate because it’s one of the top two issues for unaffiliated voters.”

Tabor

Conversations about addressing growing pains or giving more money to teachers inevitably evolve into talks about what to do about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which limits government spending to match population growth and inflation increases.
Under TABOR, which passed in 1992, leftover revenue is returned to the taxpayers. Proponents herald the limits on government spending; detractors warn that TABOR isn’t robust enough to respond to real-time needs, like shifting populations in schools due to high housing costs.
But Coloradans tend to like the control TABOR gives them: A January 2018 report from the American Politics Research Lab at CU Boulder found that “support among Coloradans outpaces opposition,” with 45 percent of respondents supporting TABOR.
That number has fallen since 2016, and the study notes that more than a quarter of respondents had “uncertainty about a position.” In short, there’s room for candidates to make TABOR the issue of the campaign.
Republican candidates are likely to support working within TABOR’s constraints. Democrats will probably talk more about reform or repeal.

Guns

 

Continue reading

Apr 26

TABOR, Colorado education funding and the teacher protests (for Dummies)

TABOR, Colorado education funding and the teacher protests (for Dummies)

If there’s one thing teachers hate, it’s Cliffnotes, but here’s a “Cliffnotes”-style explainer of the education funding shortfalls Colorado teachers are protesting.

KUSA – By now, you’ve probably read that thousands of teachers plan to rally at the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday and Friday.

This has led the state’s largest school districts to cancel class. To put this into perspective, if you got all the kids who will have the day off in the same place, it would be Colorado’s second largest city.

A stock photo of Colorado Springs, for context.
RondaKimbrow, RondaKimbrow

It’s a big deal.

RELATED | Why thousands of Colorado teachers are protesting on Thursday and Friday

Education funding in Colorado is confusing, as in the kind of thing that still doesn’t make sense even after spending half of your work day trying to brush up on it (talking from experience here).

But, like “War and Peace,” your state’s education budget is important … but also super confounding and kinda tedious (apologies to all the Tolstoy fans out there). So, here’s our attempt at a Cliffnotes version to get you up to speed before our coverage of the teacher protests (which is ironic because if there’s one thing teachers hate, it’s using Cliffnotes instead of reading the actual book).

RELATED | These districts are canceling class on April 27 due to teacher walkouts

What are the teachers protesting?

Colorado’s teachers are protesting a few things. First off, they’re speaking out against the state’s lack of education funding (some studies put Colorado in the bottom tier nationwide), low teacher pay (while you’ll see some reports that teacher pay in Colorado is ranked 46th in the country, it’s actually 31st at $52,736 a year, according to the latest National Education Association report) and proposed changes to their pension plan.

During the protests, there’s one thing hear about a lot: TABOR, and specifically, how it impacts the education budget.

So … what’s up with TABOR?

A stock photo of a teacher explaining TABOR.
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc, This content is subject to copyright.

No, it’s not someone’s name (necessarily). Instead, it’s an acronym for the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This was passed in 1992, and basically, you can trace everything that’s a little unique about Colorado’s budget back to this.

Continue reading

Apr 13

Join the TABOR offensive!

Join the TABOR offensive!

Join the TABOR offensive!

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is universally despised, neigh, deplored by every tax-happy progressive around the country. Ever wonder why it’s like sunlight to a vampire to them, and why they’ve weakened it in court-ruling after court-ruling for 25 years? Then please join us on Monday, April 23, in Colorado Springs for our first stop on the TABOR Road Show 2018.

There’s a growing coalition of national, state, and local TABOR supporters that won’t tolerate any more attacks on or weakening of the greatest gift Colorado voters ever gave themselves or future generations – the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and the right to vote on increases in taxes and debt. We are crisscrossing the state to let people know about the TABOR Yes coalition, some two dozen strong and growing, and why Coloradans should fall in love with TABOR again.

For additional information on TABOR and our coalition, visit our Web site TABORYes.com.

Please RSVP here!

Monday, April 23rd
5:30-7 PM

Barrel Room at IvyWild School
1604 S. Cascade Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO 80905

Local HostSpringsTaxpayers.com
Emcee: Jeff Crank, The Jeff Crank Show
Moderator: Amy Oliver Cooke, Independence Institute

Panelists:
Michael Fields, Americans for Prosperity Foundation
Jon Caldara, Independence Institute
Hadley Heath Manning, Independent Women’s Forum (invited)

Supported by the
TABOR YES COALITION

Americans for Prosperity- Colorado
Americans for Tax Reform
America’s House of Commons
Americhicks
Approval Voting
Arapahoe Tea Party
CATO Institute
Centennial Institute
Center for Freedom Prosperity
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Colorado Issues Coalition
Colorado Log Cabin Republicans
Colorado Union of Taxpayers
Independence Institute
Independent Women’s Forum
Mountain States Legal Foundation
National Asian Indian Republican Association
Reagan Republicans
Republican Liberty Caucus Colorado
SpringsTaxpayers.com
Taxpayers Chamber of Commerce
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Hudson Firm
The Steamboat Institute
Wake Up with Randy Corporon (710 KNUS)
Kelsey M. Alexander
Barbara Piper
Dennis Polhill
Geri Zahner

Join the TABOR offensive!

Apr 13

So tell us, Dave Young, what’s wrong with TABOR that it needs fixing as you said “he will fight for more funding and work to fix Colorado Constitutional amendments TABOR and Gallagher.”

Teachers union endorses Rep. Dave Young for state treasurer

Tyler Silvy

April 12, 2018

Dave Young

JUNE PRIMARY

Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, will compete against two other Democratic nominees for state treasurer at the June 26 primary.

The Colorado Education Association has endorsed Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, in his campaign for state treasurer, adding to a long list of endorsements punctuated by union support.

Young, who is term limited in Colorado House District 50, is running for treasurer and has two Democratic opponents — Bernard Douthit, a Denver businessman; and Charles Scheibe, Colorado’s chief financial officer.

The most recent campaign filings has Young outraising both, and the most recent endorsement announcement appears to add further momentum.

“I am so proud to be endorsed by the CEA,” Young said in the release, adding he would fight to ensure public schools get the funding they deserve.

Young is a former teacher, serving in Greeley classrooms for 24 years. He was also the president and lead bargainer for the Greeley Education Association, the local chapter of the statewide teachers union.

CEA President Kerrie Dallman had positive things to say.

“Dave has been a crucial force in bringing forth legislation to help our educators and students, and to increase funding for our state’s schools,” Dallman said in the release. “With his leadership, we can make sure that every child in Colorado has access to a high-quality public education.”

Along with the CEA, Young has earned the endorsement of the Pipefitters Local 208 and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, as well as the support of more than 50 elected officials, including Congressman Ed Perlmutter and former Governor Bill Ritter, according to the release.

Young said in the release he has first-hand knowledge of teachers going without raises and students going without resources, saying he will fight for more funding and work to fix Colorado Constitutional amendments TABOR and Gallagher.

Teachers union endorses Rep. Dave Young for state treasurer

Apr 12

If a candidate running for political office wants to abolish TABOR, that candidate doesn’t deserve your support or more importantly, your vote.

If a candidate running for political office wants to abolish TABOR, that candidate doesn’t deserve your support or more importantly, your vote.

Tell them, “See Ya!!!!”

“’SEE YA’ TABOR Some gubernatorial candidates said at a debate Monday they wanted to repeal TABOR, a constitutional amendment that affects school funding.” KUNC

https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2018/04/11/rise-shine-canon-city-district-is-the-latest-to-consider-four-day-week/

Gubernatorial Candidates Divided On TABOR, Education Funding And Gun Control At UNC Debate

By MATT BLOOM  APR 10, 2018

Candidates for Colorado governor at the University of Northern Colorado on April 10. From left: Erik Underwood (D), Mike Johnston (D), Greg Lopez (R), Scott Helker (L), Doug Robinson (R), Donna Lynne (D) and Steve Barlock (R)

MATT BLOOM

When asked what they thought the defining issue facing Colorado is, the panel of seven candidates at Monday night’s gubernatorial debate in Greeley couldn’t pick just one.

“The most important thing the next governor has to do is to build a coalition statewide to go to the ballot and repeal the worst parts of TABOR to build schools,” Mike Johnston, a Democrat, said to the crowd of 100 people in UNC’s University Center Grand Ballroom.

Fellow Democrat Erik Underwood echoed Johnston’s concerns, but was quick to call him a “Johnny-come-lately” on repealing TABOR.

“Actually, I’m the only original candidate on the Democratic side that wanted to repeal TABOR,” he said. “So, thank you.”

Doug Robinson, a Republican, said he had multiple priorities but pointed to the future of the state’s transportation infrastructure as a critical issue.   Continue reading

Apr 11

Gubernatorial Candidates Divided On TABOR, Education Funding And Gun Control At UNC Debate

Gubernatorial Candidates Divided On TABOR, Education Funding And Gun Control At UNC Debate

  14 HOURS AGO

“The most important thing the next governor has to do is to build a coalition statewide to go to the ballot and repeal the worst parts of TABOR to build schools,” Mike Johnston, a Democrat, said to the crowd of 100 people in UNC’s University Center Grand Ballroom.

“Actually, I’m the only original candidate on the Democratic side that wanted to repeal TABOR,” he said. “So, thank you.”

Doug Robinson, a Republican, said he had multiple priorities but pointed to the future of the state’s transportation infrastructure as a critical issue.

“I think we’ve been drifting without a plan for our future,” Robinson said. “We have to invest in our roads and if we do that, commerce will follow infrastructure.”

 

Continue reading

Apr 06

Lawmakers Are Close To A New State Budget. Here’s Where Money Is And Isn’t Going

Colorado lawmakers have all but signed off on the biggest budget in state history. The $28.9 billion spending plan invests taxpayer dollars in roads, schools and the state’s troubled pension fund.

Unlike in previous years, lawmakers had a $1.3 billion surplus to split between their different priorities. The extra money is thanks to a booming a economy and the federal tax reform package, according to state economists. While a surplus has eased tensions among lawmakers jockeying for priorities, it also has them scrambling for the extra dollars.

The Senate added a number of changes to the budget Wednesday night. The chamber is scheduled to take a final vote on it’s version this week before a bipartisan committee begins ironing differences with the House version. The deadline for final passage is the end of next week. Here’s where the money is — and isn’t — headed.

No TABOR Refund

In Coloradothe Taxpayers’ Bill Of Rights limits the amount of money lawmakers can spend before they have to supply refunds to taxpayers. Lawmakers don’t expect to hit the TABOR cap over the next fiscal year, so Coloradans won’t be getting a refund check next year. Part of the reason for that has to do with a major financial compromise struck last year. It recategorized a fee paid by hospitals, which created room for spending beneath the TABOR limit.

Fix Roads And Bridges

The budget allocates $495 billion for one-time spending on road projects. That’s a fraction of the $9 billion the Colorado Department of Transportation says it needs to modernize transportation infrastructure around the state. But the spending is in line with a request from the governor and a compromise transportation bill approved in the Senate last week. That plan would use the money to buy time for voters to consider a citizen initiative in November to raise sales taxes for road funding. If that fails, the compromise would trigger another initiative asking voters for new transportation bonds in 2019. Continue reading

Nov 12

Opinion: The building blocks of TABOR

(Consider where the author is sitting before you evaluate where he is standing and espousing in his editorial–editor)

Opinion: The building blocks of TABOR

Say you had a box with a plant growing inside it. For reasons dark and twisted, the plant finds itself quite content to grow inside the black confines of the box. It gains inch after inch each week. Eventually, the plant runs out of room to grow but the box is a box. It can’t grow with the plant. The plant, doomed by its own prodigiousness, grows too big for its cramped home and crushes itself against the six walls of its cardboard prison.

TABOR

Courtesy of tookapic at Pixabay

So, what do plants and Colorado’s economy have in common? While I grant that it is a little melodramatic, I think it’s also an apt metaphor for the situation imposed by Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

In 1992, Colorado voters approved adding an amendment to Colorado’s constitution that put a cap on how much revenue the state is allowed to collect through taxes. It also requires the state to authorize any new taxes directly through voters by means of a referendum process. Any amount above the cap is refunded to taxpayers. This mechanism allows me to feed into an unhealthy obsession with Legos every year, as my tax return checks can be quite generous. However, at the same time Colorado’s constitution has a requirement in it that requires the state to increase education spending to keep pace with inflation.

One great way to think of both tax and spending mechanisms is to think of TABOR as the brake and Amendment 23 as the gas. TABOR limits government growth and spending while Amendment 23 keeps a steady drip of cash flowing into government expenditures.

Continue reading

Oct 13

EDITORIAL: TABOR lawsuit misguided

50354_2201459078_608064_nPUEBLO CITY Schools (D60) Board of Education has joined a lawsuit that would overturn the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Pueblo County District 70 joined the federal case earlier.

Educators have been led to believe that repealing TABOR’s state and local tax and spending restrictions would trickle down into more legislative funding of the public schools. Not so fast. The state’s recent budget history says otherwise.

Since approved by the voters in 1992, TABOR has done what it promised to do, which is to require voter approval before taxes can be raised and to tie revenue increases to Colorado’s overall economic growth unless voters permit.

In fact, state revenues and spending have increased every year under TABOR even under the cap of combined growth in population and inflation.

Continue reading