Colorado Senate Republican leaders said Monday they are close to agreeing to a deal that would save more than half-a-billion dollars in proposed funding cuts for statewide hospitals.
The deal would also offer up a $37 million business personal-property tax cut and clear space in future budgets for transportation and education funding hikes.
The deal on Senate Bill 267 was so close, in fact, that co-sponsoring Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, had passed out a bullet-point sheet describing the details of the deal and had begun to inform a media briefing about the plan Monday morning when he received a note from co-sponsoring Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman telling him that the Denver Democrat was pulling back from what he’d described as a “handshake agreement.”
Surprised, Sonnenberg said he would sit down again with Guzman and with the bipartisan House sponsors of SB 67 and hoped to come up with a deal in the next week.
The biggest sticking point between Republicans and Democrats remains Republicans’ insistence on including efforts to slow the growth of Medicaid costs that include an increase on co-pays by Medicaid recipients.
The issue first surfaced when House Republicans tried to increase co-pays during the budget debate and put the savings for the state to transportation funding — an effort blocked by Democrats who insisted the budget would not be balanced on the backs of the poorest and sickest state residents.
The bill, put forth as a way to forgo a proposed $528 million in funding cuts via the hospital-provider fee, has always been a complex piece of legislation that also seeks to increase funding for rural roads and schools and to cut state funding across the board in order to help for that re-prioritizing.
But it took on an even greater diversity of topics over the past week, when Sonnenberg added a long-sought business personal property tax cut to offset what he called his concessions on lowering the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights cap in order to offset the money being taken out for the hospital provider fee. Continue reading →
The big issue: would it be an end run around TABOR or not? Does it lower the base or not?
Dire funding news for the state’s hospitals has left Republicans in rural Colorado pleading with the legislature to restructure the Hospital Provider Fee, despite ideological beliefs.
It is a thorny issue that pits conservatives in the legislature against fellow Republicans in rural parts of the state.
Hospitals face a $264 million reduction in the upcoming budget that begins in July. That number is up from an initial budget request in November, which proposed a $195-million reduction. Rural hospitals are expected to receive the worst of it, with expectations for some hospitals to close.
Budget writers have proposed a $28.3 billion annual spending plan that lawmakers will begin to debate this week. In an effort to pass a balanced budget, the Joint Budget Committee proposed reducing collections of the Hospital Provider Fee.
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights works for you and its 25th anniversary this year is worth celebrating. Once again in 2017 you need to protect TABOR from the political elite attacking it.
TABOR belongs to you. It is how you set a broad control on government that must answer to you and your fellow citizens. It has succeeded in keeping a better balance between costly government programs and healthy family budgets.
Everyone has to live within a budget. That’s just life. Staying in budget brings stability to your family and helps you choose the most important ways to spend your money. The value of living within a budget applies not just to individuals and families, but also to government. That’s just smart — and fair.
Seeing is believing. So, it’s no wonder many in government prefer to work in the dark.
It’s not just that they don’t want us to know what they’re fully doing. They don’t want us to know what we’re fully paying. The reason for this emotional manipulation is clear. If the cost of government is hidden into the cost of our daily lives, we feel like we’re not paying as much as we really are.
As the state legislative session gears up our governor will try to get you to feel you’re not paying a massive tax called the Hospital Provider Fee. He, in concert with everyone who wants to increase taxes in every conceivable way except actually asking voters first, will pressure the legislature, via the new senate president, to embrace this dark money ploy.
This is nothing new. Colorado is chalk full of schemes to turn your tax money dark.
One of the biggest emotional manipulations is employee withholdings. Why in the world is it our employer’s job to collect our taxes? Imagine how you’d feel about your money going to government if you had to write out a check every month along with your other bills. And you think you gripe about your cable bill?
EDITORIAL: Celebrate TABOR for Making Colorado strong | Colorado Springs Gazette, News
By: The Gazette editorial board
June 9, 2016Updated:
Colorado is reliably hot, economically. During good times and bad nationally and internationally, the economy typically produces above-average indicators when compared to other states. When Forbes, Business Insider and others rank states by economic performance, Colorado sometimes ranks first and seldom fails to finish among the top five.
One economic factor makes Colorado different than all other states. It’s called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Only Colorado has such a law.
TABOR is like that persnickety old-school spouse who won’t let the household live beyond its means. The rest of the family may resent the rules, because compulsive spending is fun. But they ultimately benefit from the safety and security of a stable home.
The law restricts government spending with a formula that accounts for inflation and population growth. If revenues exceed what the formula allows, politicians must return the windfalls unless voters say otherwise. All changes to tax policy must be approved by a public vote.
TABOR is constantly under attack because it tells politicians “no.” It limits their ability to spend. But the benefits are not in question if one examines the facts.
Not even 48 hours after the legislative session ended, the governor floated the idea of convening a special session to address the hotly debated hospital provider fee.
This drumbeat has continued in the press, with pressure from countless special interest groups who didn’t get their way during the normal 120-day session. And this all comes after the Senate Finance Committee voted down a bill to move the $750 million hospital provider fee into a separate enterprise fund for the second year in a row.
Proponents of this move want you to believe that to fix roads and help schools, this budget gimmick is desperately needed. They have grabbed onto compelling buzzwords, cleverly invoked as rationale to adopt this plan. These messages are used to pull on people’s heart strings and convince them that enterprising the hospital provider fee would somehow fix our transportation and education needs. The fact is creating this enterprise would be an end-run around our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and would not fix our long-term funding problems.
To fully understand what has been going on with our state budget, let’s look at a few numbers:
– The state budget has gone from $19 billion to $27 billion in just seven years. Continue reading →
Local leaders discuss possible changes to the state’s constitutional initiative process in a small group during the Building a Better Colorado community summit at Northeastern Junior College on Dec. 7. (Sterling Journal-Advocate)
The tensions between populism and policymaking that are so evident in this year’s presidential primaries have trickled down to the state level.
In Colorado’s case, major policy reforms — including those that emerged from last fall’s Building a Better Colorado process of town hall meetings — have at times taken a back seat to partisan posturing.
But the Building a Better Colorado reforms remain a key part of the civic agenda, especially in these three areas:
Reform or replace the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), or put in place a “TABOR relief valve” so that the state may keep a bigger share of tax revenue to fund roads, schools and other infrastructure necessary to serve Colorado’s growing population.
Reform our primary election process so that the results better reflect the will of voters and also put Colorado where it belongs on the national political map, as the most influential swing state in the Rocky Mountain region.
Establish somewhat higher though reachable hurdles for qualifying and approving constitutional amendments, taking into account Colorado’s diverse geographic and demographic interests.
The difficulty in getting TABOR relief approved in the just-finished legislative session underscores how tricky it is to enact reforms in an election year where the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders insurgencies are having a big impact. In the state Senate, for example, majority Republicans were pushed by the Colorado chapter of the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity not to tweak the language of the state’s hospital provider fee and exempt it from TABOR limits. The penalty: facing a more conservative primary opponent at the next election.
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.
The 2016 Colorado legislative session may go down in history as the year of little change.
The politically divided chambers in the General Assembly resulted in neither party having much success with their lengthy agendas.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing for political moderates or independents who don’t care about party agendas, but for everyone else, they’ve got something in the loss column this year.
That means 2017 won’t see major policy changes on things like clamping down on construction defects litigation or equal-pay legislation.
Here is a look at some of the winners and losers from the session, which concluded Wednesday:
The Joint Budget Committee
Any politician who can emerge from 120 days of politicking and still look like a high-functioning, level-headed individual. The three Democrats and three Republicans on the Joint Budget Committee received more than their share of accolades for crafting a 581-page budget that somehow managed to appease both sides. Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, led the committee to a $25.8 billion budget that averted major cuts and – perhaps more significantly – the gridlock all too common across the nation when politicians dig in their heals.