Oct 07

Will school districts make the difference in the legal fight against TABOR, Colorado’s tax law?

By Yesenia Robles
yrobles@chalkbeat.org
PUBLISHED: October 3, 2016 – 7:55 p.m. EDT

colorado-capitol-dome-tabor( Photo by Denver Post file )
A long-running legal challenge to Colorado’s constitutional amendment limiting tax revenues gained significant new allies Monday: school boards from five school districts.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit ruled that the lawsuit brought in 2011 had no standing because the original plaintiffs were not “directly injured by the law.”

The hope is that adding school districts to the lawsuit will meet that standard, and convince a district court judge that the lawsuit should proceed.

The boards from Denver Public Schools, Boulder Valley School District, Pueblo City Schools, Cheyenne County School District and Gunnison Watershed School District joined the suit.
Mike Johnson, a Denver school board member, said in a statement that since TABOR was enacted 24 years ago, Colorado has dropped to No. 42 in the nation in public funding for education, more than $2,000 per pupil lower than the national average.

“We are joining this lawsuit to restore the ability of the DPS board and the legislature to fund public education at the level Colorado students deserve,” said Johnson, who made the case to his board colleagues last month to join the lawsuit.

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, was passed by voters in 1992. The law requires that local governments get approval from voters before raising taxes. It also limits the amount of taxes the government can collect, triggering refunds if revenues exceed an annually-adjusted cap, unless voters allow the government to keep the extra money. Continue reading

Oct 07

Colorado school districts join legal fight against TABOR

School officials say they have standing as plaintiffs because of drop in funding

Colorado school boards who claim Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights has decimated student funding have joined a five-year legal fight to have the law dismantled.

Five Colorado school boards have been added as new plaintiffs in the original federal lawsuit filed against the anti-tax measure, also known as TABOR. The suit was filed in 2011 and led by state Sen. Andy Kerr and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst.

In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court returned the case to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver for further review. But in June 2016, the Court of Appeals determined the legislative plaintiffs did not have standing to sue. The case was then sent back to U.S. District Court.

Lawyers for the original plaintiffs hope to keep the suit alive with the addition of the school districts, saying the districts have legal standing to sue because they have been directly injured by TABOR.

To read the rest of the story, click (HERE):

Oct 07

TABOR lawsuit is back, stronger than ever

TABOR lawsuit is back, stronger than ever

After suffering a major setback earlier this year, the legal team trying to repeal Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment is back and charging once again into the breach.

Better known as TABOR, the amendment limits state spending and prohibits tax increases without a vote of the people. It has been panned by many lawmakers and policy analysts, and some point to it as a reason why Colorado lags in education funding nationally. Still, supporters believe it is a venerable effort at direct democracy.

In 2011, a group of public officials filed a lawsuit against the 1992 TABOR amendment, which puts an annual cap on the state’s tax revenue, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. The case is officially filed against Governor Hickenlooper, who as head of state represents the Colorado Constitution. In the intervening five years, the case’s legitimacy has been, at different turns, supported, disputed and ultimately denied.

In 2013, two years after the case was filed, the Tenth Circuit approved it, heard it and handed down a decision in favor of the plaintiffs in 2014. But Colorado’s then-Attorney General, John Suthers, challenged that decision, arguing that the plaintiffs did not in fact qualify to be heard. The Supreme Court sided with Suthers and issued an order for the Tenth Circuit to reconsider the case in light of a recent decision, Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Redistricting Commission, that mandated that plaintiffs in this kind of case must be composed of complete government bodies, not just individuals. Continue reading

Oct 07

Pueblo City Schools joins in lawsuit challenging TABOR

Pueblo City Schools joins in lawsuit challenging TABOR

Pueblo City Schools (D60) has added its name to a list of plaintiffs in a constitutional challenge to Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

During its regular September meeting, the board of education approved a resolution that will see the district become part of the Kerr et al v. Hickenlooper civil lawsuit, filed in 2011 in U.S. District Court in Colorado.

The plaintiffs — current and past state legislators, public officials, educators, administrators and private citizens — have sued to overturn TABOR.

“The ability of Pueblo School District No. 60 to provide adequate education services to its students depends in part on its ability to convince the Colorado General Assembly to adequately fund the Public School Finance Act,” the approved resolution declares.

Additionally, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights “prevents the state and its local school districts from fulfilling their constitutional obligations to adequately fund the public schools” and has impinged on the district’s ability to provide for the education of its children “due to requirements for elections to approve any increases in the property tax mill levies.” Continue reading

Jul 22

Tenth Circuit Denies Rehearing in Colorado Tabor Challenge

Tenth Circuit Denies Rehearing in Colorado Tabor Challenge

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 19 rejected a request to rehear a challenge to Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
 
The one-sentence order from the three-judge panel likely signals the end of the road for Colorado Rep. Andy Kerr (D) and the other state lawmakers who joined him in his bid to reverse a 1992 constitutional amendment that requires a popular vote to raise taxes.
Jun 10

EDITORIAL: Celebrate TABOR for Making Colorado strong

EDITORIAL: Celebrate TABOR for Making Colorado strong | Colorado Springs Gazette, News

By: The Gazette editorial board

June 9, 2016 Updated: 
photo -

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.

 

Continue reading

Jun 08

Anti-TABOR lawsuit deserved latest setback in federal court

 

Anti-TABOR lawsuit deserved latest setback in federal court

Cynthia Coffman picture

Cyrus McCrimmon, Denver Post file

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is defending the state against a lawsuit regarding TABOR.

By The Denver Post Editorial Board |

June 7, 2016 |

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has multiple flaws that this editorial page has documented repeatedly over the years while urging lawmakers and voters to fix them.

We’re also on record as recently as last month urging the legislature to adopt a budgetary mechanism to free up revenue that otherwise would have to be refunded under TABOR.

But our critique of TABOR doesn’t extend to questioning the right of voters to enact or defend it. The 5-year-old lawsuit arguing that TABOR violates the U.S. Constitution’s mandate that states have a “Republican Form of Government” is too strained and exotic for our taste. It deserved the setback it suffered last week in federal court.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that several Colorado lawmakers who are plaintiffs lacked legal standing to sue because they do not represent the General Assembly as a whole.

To read the rest of this story, click (HERE):

Jun 07

TABOR Survives Constitutional Challenge

Lunch Links: Puerto Rico Vote This Week, Gun Tax, and TABOR Survives Constitutional Challenge

June 06, 2016

By Joseph Henchman

Today is June 6, the date in 1978 when California voters approved Proposition 13 by a wide margin of 65 percent to 35 percent. Spearheaded by activist Howard Jarvis after years of skyrocketing property tax increases, Prop. 13 immediately cut property taxes by 30 percent and capped them thereafter: property taxes are limited to 1 percent of assessed value and the assessed value can only be increased a maximum of 2 percent per year, unless a change of ownership occurs. The “California tax revolt” symbolized by Prop. 13’s passage led to similar initiatives in other states. Although there is occasional criticism of how Proposition 13 works and its lock-in effects, it remains a third rail in California politics.

Here are some interesting links I came across:

  • S. House to Vote on Puerto Rico Bill This Week:The bill sets up a control board to oversee the island’s finances and restructure its $70 billion debt. It’s backed by Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, and Treasury Secretary Lew, but some Democrats are unhappy with a provision reducing the island’s minimum wage for young workers, and some Republicans are unhappy with the precedent the bill creates. (Bloomberg)
  • Appeals Court Rejects Constitutional Challenge to Spending Limitation: The federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruledthat individual Colorado lawmakers do not have standing to challenge their Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) spending limitation. They left open the question of whether the Legislature as a whole can bring such a challenge. The lawmakers argued that TABOR deprives Colorado of functioning representative government in violation of the Guarantee Clause of the Constitution. (10th Circuit)
  • Hillary Clinton and the Gun Tax: In a 1993 hearing, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton endorsed the idea of a 25 percent gun tax. Asked yesterday by George Stephanopoulos of ABC if she still supports it, she declined to answer but defended the proposal as a way to cover medical and law enforcement costs. (ABC)
  •  Oklahoma to Vote on Sales Tax Increase: The one-cent increase will appear on the November ballot as State Question 779. (The Oklahoman)
  •  Switzerland Rejects Guaranteed Basic Income: A proposal to give each Swiss adult 2,500 francs (about $2,500) each month was rejected at the ballot box, 23 percent to 77 percent. (Wall Street Journal)

 

And be sure to check out our new map on alcohol taxes.

 

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/lunch-links-puerto-rico-vote-week-gun-tax-and-tabor-survives-constitutional-challenge

 

Jun 04

Effort to undo TABOR tax law dealt blow by court

50354_2201459078_608064_nEffort to undo TABOR tax law dealt blow by court  But decision unlikely to end legal challenge

By | mkmatthews@denverpost.com and | jbunch@denverpost.com

WASHINGTON — A legal effort to dismantle Colorado’s controversial TABOR tax law was dealt a major setback Friday when a federal appeals court ruled that some of its biggest opponents did not have standing to move forward with a court challenge.

The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means that Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, isn’t going anywhere soon — nor its requirement that state lawmakers and city leaders get permission from voters before raising taxes.
“For half a decade now, we’ve been fighting a federal court battle to defend our voters’ right to have a voice in state tax policy,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in a statement. “I hope this decisive win will convince TABOR’s opponents that the courts are not the place to pursue their political agenda.”

There’s little chance, however, that the ruling will be the final word in the matter, as the coalition looking to unravel TABOR vowed to continue a court challenge that began in 2011.

To read the rest of this story, click (HERE):

Jun 04

BIG LOSS FOR KERR: Liberal Legislators Cannot Undo TABOR, Says Supreme Court

Kerr Colorado News AgencyOh no! Liberal golden boy state Sen. Andy Kerr has been spanked by the U.S. Supreme Court for trying to undo TABOR, which is the taxpayers bill of rights that requires taxpayer approval in order to raise taxes. The court’s ruling basically said that a select few legislators simply did not have the right to overturn a constitutional amendment, no matter how badly they want that fat cash for special interests. Ok, fine, we added that last part. But it’s true.

The case has been working its way through the court system, first taken up by Attorney General John Suthers and finished today by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who offered the following statement:

“I hope this decisive win will convince TABOR’s opponents that the courts are not the place to pursue their political agenda. However, my legal team and I will continue to defend taxpayers’ rights against legal challenge as long as we have to.”

While Team Kerr was told no, the court left open the possibility that a different set of plaintiffs (not legislators) could pursue a similar legal argument. Liberals just cannot wait to get their greedy paws on more taxpayer funds, so we don’t anticipate they will give up anytime soon.

BIG LOSS FOR KERR: Liberal Legislators Cannot Undo TABOR, Says Supreme Court