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 →
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 →
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Oh 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.
The American Bar Association provides this summary of the case:
“Colorado state legislators sought to invalidate key provisions of the Colorado Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR), claiming that those provisions interfered with their constitutional voting abilities and thus violated the Guarantee Clause of the federal constitution. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the named party tasked with defending TABOR, argued that the legislators’ claims ought to be dismissed for lack of standing, and as nonjusticiable under the political question doctrine. The Tenth Circuit found that TABOR had caused actionable injury to the legislative plaintiffs by depriving them of their unique ability to affect Colorado tax policy by their votes, and (upon quick findings of causation and redressability) held that those plaintiffs possessed both Article III and prudential standing. The court held that a case-by-case approach to the political question doctrine was required by Baker v. Carr, and that the legislative plaintiffs’ Guarantee Clause claims were not barred as nonjusticiable by any of the six factors detailed in that case.”
Washington voters going all the way back to 1979 with Initiative 62, have consistently called for a higher threshold to raise taxes. The state Supreme Court, however, has ruled that a supermajority requirement for tax increases can only be enacted via a constitutional amendment. A December poll conducted by Elway Research, INC found that 65% of Washington voters want lawmakers to act on such a constitutional amendment. Should voters finally get the chance to consider one, the federal courts have again made it clear the people have the right to restrict tax increases via their state constitutions.
“Today the Judiciary ruled in favor of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Opponents of TABOR had asked the federal courts to rule it unconstitutional. Arguments about whether a full trial should even begin had been appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court. That highest Court had directed the 10th Circuit located here in Denver to reconsider the case in light of more recent precedent. With today’s decision by the 10th Circuit Court, it appears that this case will be dismissed and TABOR will survive unscathed.
Your TABOR Foundation joined a group of limited government proponents to file Friend-of-the Court briefs at each step in support of TABOR. We were ably represented in that effort by the National Federation of Independent Business through its attorney, Luke Wake.
We can be grateful that the most existential threat to TABOR is gone, for now. We should be diligent that the Leftists who want to repeal such limits on the growth of governments will try again in a different fashion.