DENVER — Even though it had near universal support outside of the Capitol, Republicans in a Senate committee Tuesday killed a measure that some had hoped would free up money for schools and transportation without raising taxes or fees.
The Senate Finance Committee, on a party-line 3-2 vote, killed a measure to turn the state’s hospital provider fee program, which funds health care programs for the poor, into a state-run government enterprise.
Doing so would free up about $750 million under the revenue caps mandated by the voter-approved Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, something the 1992 constitutional amendment expressly allows.
But Republicans in the GOP-controlled committee said the idea flies in the face of TABOR’s spending limits, saying it would allow for unlimited growth when it comes to Medicaid spending.
“I do believe it is a major cash transfer, and I believe it was set up accordingly so that it would not come under the strong scrutiny of the voters of Colorado,” said Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, who chairs the committee. “I believe that was not by accident.”
The issue has been a major theme of the 2016 legislative session, which ends today.
It actually started at the end of last year’s session when Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed taking the program out from under TABOR, in part because it’s a fee paid by hospitals and not taxpayers.