Oct 02

Program scheduled to explain tax issues, laws

A program to explain how the state budget works, how the Gallagher Amendment impacts property taxes and how the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) affects local government will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Friday at the Pueblo Convention Center.

The program, sponsored by the Pueblo West Citizens’ Council, will feature a presentation by the Colorado Fiscal Institute, an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.

According to the institute’s website, it “provides credible, strategic, independent and accessible information and analysis of fiscal and economic issues facing Colorado. Our aim is to inform and influence public policy debates and contribute to sound decisions that improve the well-being of individuals, communities and the state as a whole.”

A spokeswoman for the Pueblo West Citizens’ Council said the event is being put on because the group believes “that ‘we the people’ do a much better job of governing ourselves when we have all the available information in its most basic form. The truth, without spin, without any hidden profit agenda or emotional bias, no grandstanding or campaigning.”

The event is free and open to the public.

http://www.chieftain.com/news/pueblo/program-scheduled-to-explain-tax-issues-laws/article_a1ab4e14-d2d5-5a94-be07-e170182dcef1.html

Oct 02

Taxpayers Have Their Own Bill of Rights in Colorado. But Who Benefits?

Taxpayers Have Their Own Bill of Rights in Colorado. But Who Benefits?

The unique anti-tax tool has defined spending in the state, and it may spread to more states.
BY  OCTOBER 2017

Anti-tax advocate Douglas Bruce led the TABOR effort in 1992. “No one has had the impact on Colorado politics” that he has, according to one academic in the state. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

The blue tag on the streetlight outside Robert Loevy’s Colorado Springs home in 2010 didn’t signal an upcoming utility project. It was a receipt to show he had paid the $100 to keep his light on for the year. The city was facing a decimating $40 million budget gap and, among many other cuts, it was turning off one-third of its streetlights. That is, unless residents could come up with the money themselves. “I could afford to pay it,” Loevy says today, “but I have to think that would have been a stretch for many lower-income people.”

Loevy, a retired Colorado College professor, says the lights-out incident — which earned Colorado Springs international infamy that year — is just one of the many instances in which Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) has only benefited those taxpayers who can afford to pay for services out of their own pocket. Loevy has been a vocal critic of the law. As he sees it, “TABOR has had its worst effects on poor people.”

Continue reading

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.

May 11

Legislature dismantles Colorado Energy Office, passes major spending bill on final day

But the biggest agreement of the day came on SB 267, a bill that attempts to meet several of the most crucial needs in Colorado — increased road funding, stabilized funding for rural hospitals, a boost in funding for rural schools — as it also allows for more spending room in future budgets.

Several House Republicans blasted the bill, which largely was crafted by Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling. They said it violated the Taxpayer’s Bills of Rights by not reducing the TABOR spending cap by as much as the cost of the roughly $800 million hospital provider fee program that it took out from under the cap and made into an enterprise.

Rep. Tim Leonard, R-Evergreen, said it also violated the legislative requirement to limit all bills to a single subject, even as it seemed to try to fill the needs of many sectors to grow their government funding.

“We work for the people,” Leonard told House members. “We do not work for the recipients of government money waiting for the trough to fill up with taxpayer money.”

But a number of other Republicans, who largely represent rural areas or are considered more moderate members of their caucus, said they backed the measure because the spending recipients needed the boost. They echoed arguments from the Colorado Hospital Association that between six and 12 rural hospitals could close if they lost the money originally projected to be taken from them in order to balance the budget next year.

And several blasted conservative organizations who have criticized them for going along with the plan, saying they are out of touch with constituents’ needs and are making the Legislature a place that is run by fear.

“I know by the time I get back to my desk, the Facebook posts will start. We’ve heard them already: ‘Squish, RINO,’” said Rep. Lois Landgraf, R-Fountain, referring to the acronym some groups give to elected officials they consider to be Republican In Name Only.

“What’s not OK is that by the time I walk out of here, I will have earned myself a primary. But I am happy to be a ‘yes’ vote.”

Over the course of a turbulent 13-hour final day of the 2017 session Wednesday, the Colorado Legislature passed one the most wide-ranging omnibus spending bills in recent memory and then killed off the vast majority of functions of the Colorado Energy Office.

The 120th day of the first session of the 71st General Assembly began with broad bipartisan support over Senate Bill 267, a measure that saves Colorado hospitals from $528 million in funding cuts, dedicates $1.88 billion to highway projects, pares Medicaid spending and offers a personal property tax credit to businesses for their first $18,000 worth of business equipment.

– LEGISLATURE’S LAST DAY: Click above for Kathleen Lavine’s look at the session’s conclusion.

Despite protests from some Republicans that some of its spending maneuvers were unconstitutional, nearly half of the caucus joined with House Democrats in passing the bill by a 49-16 margin and sending it onto Gov. John Hickenlooper.

But that was about the only kumbaya moment of a day that descended into endless negotiations and then finger-pointing over two issues key to businesses in rural Colorado.

By the time the state House of Representatives adjourned at 9:39 p.m., the Legislature had rolled back a bill to increase funding for rural broadband.

No gas for Energy Office

They also had failed to pass a reauthorization bill for the Colorado Energy Office, meaning that the majority of the office’s functions and its 24-person staff will disappear July 1. Continue reading

Mar 03

What is House Bill 1187?

What is House Bill 1187?

HB1187 would allow the government budgets at all levels to grow much larger each year by changing the current growth formula of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  The current automatic increase uses the previous year’s budget and adds the growth in population plus inflation.[1]  Under the existing formula, Colorado’s State budget has grown an average of 4.7 percent a year for the past 25 years that TABOR has been in effect.

The new formula would replace the growth rate with the growth in personal income, averaged over five years.  With that substitution, the TABOR limit would soar.

The measure is sponsored by Rep. Dan Thurlow (R-Grand Junction) and Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa County).

 

A fatal flaw in the proposal.

This bill is a very sneaky effort to avoid the constitutional rules altogether.  The rules say that the state constitution cannot be changed by passing a law.  This proposed measure says it can change a foundational definition in the constitution with a new law.  It does not ask simply for the state to keep the excess of taxes collected for some number of years.  It is a permanent change in how each TABOR limit is set.  That’s a fundamental change to the constitution. Continue reading

Feb 24

Listen To The Alaska Legislature Hearing Testimony On TABOR

Penn Pfiffner, who is probably the foremost authority on TABOR in the state, a former Colorado legislator, and member of the TABOR Committee Board of Directors, will testify about this

Dear Mr. Pfiffner,

Thank you for speaking with me about logistics. Here are some of the things to keep in mind for remote testimony:

Time Allotted

We are anticipating 10-15 minutes for your testimony followed by an opportunity for committee members to ask questions. I anticipate that the Q&A segment will last anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

Committee Edict

At the beginning of the hearing Senator Dunleavy will introduce you. He will then ask you to state your name for the record and begin your testimony. Upon completing your prepared testimony we will allow time for questions. When a senator asks you a question you are able to respond to that individual “through the chair.” For example: Continue reading

Jan 01

Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Initiative 1 (1992)

The Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), also known as Initiative 1, was on the November 3, 1992 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The famed measure, thought up by Douglas Bruce, requires statewide voter approval of tax increases that exceed an index created by combining inflation and population increases.

 

 

 

 

 

Text of measure

See also: Colorado State Constitution, Article X

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution to require voter approval for certain state and local government tax revenue increases and debt; to restrict property, income, and other taxes; to limit the rate of increase in state and local government spending; to allow additional initiative and referendum elections; and to provide for the mailing of information to registered voters?

Aftermath

Kerr v. Hickenlooper

See also: Kerr v. Hickenlooper

A lawsuit regarding Initiative 1 will likely have far reaching effects for other TABOR laws around the country and direct democracy, in general. A lawsuit was filed with U.S. District Court in Denver, with plaintiffs arguing that the amendment is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed during the week of May 27, 2011, by 34 bipartisan plaintiffs, according to reports.

According to Doug Bruce, author of the citizen initiative, if the lawsuit is successful in its efforts, it could allow lawmakers unlimited power, and could be extremely detrimental to citizen initiative efforts in the state of Colorado. Bruce stated: “This isn’t only attacking Colorado. The consequences of a ruling in their favor would invalidate the Constitution in all 50 states, and would also mean no limits on the federal government. We would have anarchy.”

However, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, David Skaggs, stated that the measure limits state legislators and conflicts with both the state and United States constitutions. Skaggs also argues that other initiatives have been overturned, but that it did not negatively affect the process. Skaggs commented: “Courts won’t reach beyond the narrow question presented. Yes, we got to this issue by initiative”, but the lawsuit targets TABOR and not citizens’ initiatives.

The case’s impact expanded significantly due to the consideration of a Guarantee Clause argument. In 2012, Colorado District Court Judge William J. Martínez ruled in favor of allowing the case to proceed. However, Martínez’s ruling noted the history of seeing the Guarantee Clause as not justiciable or capable of judicial resolution, and said, “the Court determines that it cannot summarily conclude that Plaintiffs’ Guarantee Clause claim is per se non-justiciable”

The defense appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. In March 2014, the court ruled that the case was justiciable. The court further denied a petition for rehearing en banc in July 2014. Some consider the case likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Taxpayer_Bill_of_Rights,_Initiative_1_(1992)