Dec 23

Economic Freedom of North America 2015

Here is the newly released Fraser Institute study (attached) titled Economic Freedom of North America 2015. In the event that you can’t open the attachment, you can find the report here: http://www.freetheworld.com/2015/efna/economic-freedom-of-north-america-2015-us-edition.pdf. It examines the freedom rankings by state based upon government spending, tax policy, and labor market freedoms. It reflects data through 2013. The lead investigator (Dean Stansel) is a Ph.D. economist (educated at George Mason University) and former Cato Institute research analyst. He is currently a Research Associate Professor at the O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University.

The Fraser Institute is a Canadian public policy think tank. It has been described as politically conservative and libertarian. The Institute is headquartered in Vancouver and ties to a global network of 80 think-tanks through the Economic Freedom Network. According to the 2014 Global think tank index report, Fraser is number 23 (of 100) in the “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-U.S.), number 19 (of 150) in the “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (U.S. and non-U.S.) and number 1 (of 30) in the “Top Think Tanks in Mexico and Canada”.

You should be encouraged in our fight to preserve TABOR. The data (Table 3.2c on page 37) shows that, as of 2013 (the last data set available) Colorado is tied for 9th in economic freedom within the 50 United States. In amount of government spending, CO ranks 12th (behind, FL, ID, KS, MO, NE, NH, OK, SD, TX, and VA). We don’t fare as well in taxes as CO ranks 19th behind AL, AK, AZ, FL, LA, MI, MO, MT, NV, NH, OK, OR, SD, TN, TX, VA, WA, and WY. Labor market freedoms finds CO ranked 12th behind FL, GA, MD, MA, NH, ND, PA, SD, TN, TX, and VA. According to the report, CO should learn something about freedoms from New Hampshire (ranked alone as #1 whose motto is “Live Free or Die) as well as FL, MO, NE, SD, TN, TX, and VA.

 

2015 Freedom Rankings by State

Sep 30

Understanding the Difference between Taxes and Fees

March 28, 2013

Washington, DC, March 28, 2013—In a new Background Paper released this week by the Tax Foundation, How Is the Money Used? Federal and State Cases Distinguishing Taxes and Fees examines state-by-state what a tax is, what a fee is, and how public understanding of the difference between the two can strengthen taxpayer protection provisions, minimize distortions caused by hidden or mislabeled taxes, and help increase transparency of the cost of government programs.

“A tax has the primary purpose of raising revenue,” said Joseph Henchman, Tax Foundation Vice President of Legal Projects, and author of the exhaustive study. “By contrast, a fee recoups the cost of providing a service from a beneficiary.”

“This is not just a matter of semantics,” Henchman added. “In order to protect taxpayers, many state constitutions contain additional procedural steps and limitations that apply only to tax increases. These protective measures can be undermined if the legislature can circumvent them by merely relabeling what would otherwise be a tax, so a workable definition of ‘tax’ is necessary to give them meaning.”

The report finds that all but two states (North Carolina and Oregon) have adopted these definitions, with Ohio as the most recent addition. The report also reviews which states rule in favor of taxpayers when tax laws are ambiguously worded, and which states have rejected the discredited notion that taxes are “mandatory” charges while fees are “voluntary” charges.

“With April 15th arriving soon, taxes will be on the collective minds of our nation,” said Tax Foundation President Scott A. Hodge. “As taxpayers sign over checks to the government, an understanding of what the word ‘tax’ means is of upmost importance.”

Tax Foundation Background Paper No. 63, “How Is the Money Used? Federal and State Cases Distinguishing Taxes and Fees” by Joseph Henchman is available here.

The Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has monitored fiscal policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937. To schedule an interview, please contact Richard Morrison, the Tax Foundation’s Manager of Communications, at 202-464-5102 or morrison@taxfoundation.org.

 

http://taxfoundation.org/article/understanding-difference-between-taxes-and-fees

Sep 22

Strong conservatives wary of weakening TABOR for “Better Colorado”

Some key TABOR supporters weren’t included in the coalition

Douglas Bruce in April 2015
Douglas Bruce in April 2015. (Denver Post file)

Some of the state’s strongest conservative defenders of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights say they have had no voice in the new conversation on taxes, constitutional amendments and elections.

Influential conservatives such as the Centennial Institute’s John Andrews and University of Colorado economist and TABOR expert Barry Poulson say they suspect the fix is in to deliver a conclusion that TABOR causes more problems for the state than it solves, and that the remedy is to weaken portions of the voter-approved law at the ballot box during the 2016 general election.

Their early opposition to the Building a Better Colo rado civic group could cause trouble for the bipartisan coalition, even as Building a Better Colorado officials argue that concerns over TABOR represent only a small percentage of the possible changes to state law they might seek.

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:
http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_28849090/strong-conservatives-wary-weakening-tabor-better-colorado

Sep 02

CSU study finds 80 percent of Colorado taxpayers pay more because of TABOR

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights was supposed to keep money in people’s pockets, but 80 percent of Coloradans actually pay more in taxes to supplement their local schools, according to a study released Tuesday by the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University.

“Since the early 1990s, Colorado has enacted layers of reform in pursuit of two conflicting goals – lower property taxes and well-funded public schools,” said Phyllis Resnick, lead economist at the center and lead author of a paper the research for the nonpartisan Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, “Measuring the Impact of Tax and Expenditure Limits on Public School Finance in Colorado.”The Lincoln Institute is a private think tank that studies land taxes and use.

“The result is greater inequality and inconsistency, and surprisingly, a greater tax burden for most Coloradans.”

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:
http://blogs.denverpost.com/thespot/2015/09/01/csu-study-finds-80-percent-of-colorado-taxpayers-pay-more-because-of-tabor/122792/

Sep 02

Carroll: Averting a Colorado budget smashup

Why don’t we save the esteemed Dan Ritchie and his bipartisan group of civic-minded bigwigs a lot of time and trouble?

The former chancellor at the University of Denver and his allies who’ve founded Building a Better Colorado are going to spend months in meetings and outreach trying to identify measures for next year’s ballot to address the unique challenges in governing this state.

They’ve got former governors, senators and mayors on board, not to mention current Gov. John Hickenlooper.

 

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:
http://www.denverpost.com/carroll/ci_28720814/carroll-averting-colorado-budget-smashup

Apr 26

As session wraps up, major work remains for Colorado lawmakers

Colorado lawmakers begin a mad dash to the finish next week with more than a dozen significant bills in limbo and the session’s clock set to expire.

The final flurry before the May 6 adjournment is typical each session, but this year it is complicated by a divided legislature seeking elusive common ground on a wide range of issues and a series of late bills with huge implications.

The new bills include a repeal of the sales tax on soft drinks, a new$3.5 billion transportation bonds package, two resolutions to cut the length of the legislative session, an opt-out for mail ballots, the renewal of a state consumer watchdog and a ballot measure on how to spend $58 million of marijuana taxes.

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:

 

http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_27985297/session-wraps-up-major-work-remains-colorado-lawmakers?source=JBarTicker

Mar 27

The Commanding Heights

This is the story of how the new global economy was born, a century-long battle as to which would control the commanding heights of the world’s economies — governments or markets; the story of intellectual combat over which economic system would truly benefit mankind; the story of epic political struggles to implant those ideas on the nations of the world.

For more than half a century the battle of ideas will rage. From the totalitarian socialist systems to the fascist states, from the independent nations of the developing world to the mixed economies of Europe and the regulated capitalism of the United States, government planning will gradually take over the commanding heights.

But in the 1970s, with Keynesian theory at its height and communism fully entrenched, economic stagnation sets in on all sides. When a British grocer’s daughter and a former Hollywood actor become heads of state, they join forces around the ideas of Hayek, and new political and economic policies begin to transform the world.

Chapters

  1. Chapter 1: Prologue [2:45]
  2. Chapter 2: The Old Order Fails [8:11]
  3. Chapter 3: Communism on the Heights [6:16]
  4. Chapter 4: A Capitalist Collapse [8:48]
  5. Chapter 5: Global Depression [5:26]
  6. Chapter 6: Worldwide War [7:00]
  7. Chapter 7: Planning the Peace [6:47]
  8. Chapter 8: Pilgrim Mountain [3:43]
  9. Chapter 9: Germany’s Bold Move [4:11]
  10. Chapter 10: India’s Way [3:51]
  11. Chapter 11: Chicago Against The Tide [7:32]
  12. Chapter 12: The Specter of Stagflation [6:34]
  13. Chapter 13: A Mixed Economy Flounders [8:36]
  14. Chapter 14: Deregulation Takes Off [7:29]
  15. Chapter 15: Thatcher Takes the Helm [3:50]
  16. Chapter 16: Reagan Rides In [8:17]
  17. Chapter 17: War in the South Atlantic [1:41]
  18. Chapter 18: The Heights Go Up for Sale [8:08]
  19. Chapter 19: The Battle Decided? [3:26]

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/hi/story/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/minitext/tr_show01.html

Mar 27

Tax and Expenditure Limitation Act

As an interesting side note, while TABOR is well-known in Colorado, relatively few states have a similar government spending limit mechanism in their constitutions.  The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) actually has a model bill that is based on Colorado’s TABOR amendment that lawmakers in other states can pick up, make minor changes to, and introduce in their own jurisdictions.  We would bet there are constituents in many states who would appreciate a cap on their legislature’s wanton spending.

http://www.alec.org/model-legislation/tax-and-expenditure-limitation-act/

Tax and Expenditure Limitation Act

Summary

The Tax and Expenditure Limitation Act recognizes the important tradeoff between constraints on the growth of state and local government, and the provision of adequate reserves to meet emergencies and to stabilize budgets over the business cycle. The Act is a constitutional provision designed to accomplish these objectives. The Act links a tax and spending limit to an emergency reserve fund and a budget stabilization fund. The Act also provides for temporary reductions in tax rates and/or tax rebates when surplus revenue accumulates above the tax and spending limit, and the cap on the emergency reserve fund and the budget stabilization reserve fund.

Model Policy

{Title, enacting clause, etc.}

Section 1. {Election Provisions} For any fiscal year that commences on or after____ state and local government districts must have voter approval in advance for any new tax rate increase, mill levy above that for the prior year, valuation for assessment ratio increase for a property class, or extension of an expiring tax, any markup on products sold through state-controlled enterprises, or a tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain to any district. Voter approval is also required for creation of any multi-fiscal year direct or indirect district debt or other financial obligation without adequate present cash reserves pledged irrevocably and held for payments in all future years, except for refinancing district bonded debt at a lower interest rate or adding new employees to existing district pension plans. Voter approval is also required for suspension of the spending limits imposed by this Act. Continue reading