TABOR Emergency Taxes at the State level

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TABOR Emergency Taxes at the State level

Emergency taxes are a contingency written into the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  In response to the decline in revenues due to the pandemic economic shutdown, activists on the Left are urging new and higher taxes using the emergency taxes clause.  Unfortunately, the General Assembly has put itself into an impossible situation that will prevent the imposition of any State emergency taxes.  Legislators’ dishonest dealings in good times removes this option today. Continue reading

May 13

Coronavirus may trigger the second-largest property tax cut in Colorado history, further crippling local budgets

The reductions under Colorado’s Gallagher Amendment would slash total school district revenue by an estimated $491 million. Fire districts would also be hard hit.

At a moment when state and local governments are already drowning in red ink, Colorado’s constitution is now projected to trigger the second-largest residential property tax cut in modern history.

Under forecasts presented Tuesday, Colorado lawmakers could be asked to cut residential property taxes by nearly 18% in 2021 to comply with a tax-limiting constitutional provision known as the Gallagher Amendment.

For homeowners, it would mean permanent financial relief at a time of rising unemployment and deep economic uncertainty. But if the cut goes through as projected, it would have cascading effects at nearly every level of government in the state, gashing the budgets of property-tax reliant fire districts, county governments and schools.

The reductions would cut total school district revenue by an estimated $491 million. About half of that gap will impact the state budget, which is constitutionally required to backfill certain school funding shortfalls, even as it faces a fiscal catastrophe of its own as sales and income tax revenue plummet. In one fell swoop, it could wipe out all the recent gains the state had made in erasing its unfunded debt to schools, formerly known as the negative factor. At the county level, statewide revenue could drop by $204 million.

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May 08

TABOR: GOOD MEDICINE OR BAD?

Constraints will help Colorado governments weather downturn

 

Shelby Meyer passes by The Irish Rover, one of many restaurants and bars now shuttered along South Broadway in Denver on April 14. The coronavirus has caused many businesses to shut their doors during the coronavirus pandemic. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

By Peg Brady
Guest Commentary

Peg Brady is a retired software analyst and designer. She has served on the TABOR Foundation Board of Directors for more than a decade.

The Denver Broncos and Food Bank of the Rockies hosted a mobile pantry at Empower Field at Mile High on April 27 to help people in need during the pandemic. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) has provided welcome stability to Coloradans as we all deal with the coronavirus pandemic. This provision of our state constitution allows all governments throughout Colorado an automatic but reasonable annual budget increase. The limits keep governments from growing too fast.

Therefore, when the economy gets into trouble, Colorado state and local governments have a more firm base for their spending and do not need to cut as drastically as other states. Government programs are more sound, strong and sustainable than if they had grown as fast as ambitious politicians often wanted. TABOR helps us to confront the current crisis.

Moreover, just when families and businesses are struggling, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has led to timely tax relief. The state tax system has evolved so that, when times are good, it over-collects tax revenue. Last year, Colorado over-collected $428 million. TABOR mandates that the state rebates to you excess revenue collected during a fiscal year. So, the 2019 tax rate has been reduced from the usual 4.63% to 4.5% — a 0.13% drop.

You won’t receive a tax refund check; instead, the legislature reduced the income tax rate. Because the rebate is being accomplished through the lower tax rate, you may not recognize how much money you saved. Still, because the state will not incur the cost of issuing and mailing checks, we save that expense as well.

To continue reading this TABOR article, please click (HERE):

May 02

Paid family leave ballot measures move forward, with Democratic lawmakers in support

paid family leave
State Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, speaks at a statehouse rally for a Colorado paid family leave program on April 9, 2019.

The four sponsors of a Democratic-led proposal at the state Capitol have abandoned their legislative proposal and are now endorsing the three ballot measures proposed by Colorado Families First. According to state Rep. Matt Gray of Broomfield, they don’t have a preference and will endorse whatever the ballot proponents put in front of voters.

The four lawmakers talked to reporters Friday about the reasons for letting go of their five-year effort to put a paid family and medical leave program into state law and why they’re backing the ballot measures.

The court orders on ballot initiatives 247 and 248 dealt with a challenge by Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, which claimed the programs proposed under the ballot measures were a tax and hence violated the provisions of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which require voter approval for any tax increase. The language of all three ballot measures do not reference TABOR requirements.

 

Apr 29

Denver just pulled $17 million out of the couch cushions for its coronavirus fight

(The money actually comes from TABOR reserves.)

A blackhawk helicopter carrying U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite flies over Denver toward the Colorado Convention Center. April 14, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A blackhawk helicopter carrying U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite flies over Denver toward the Colorado Convention Center. April 14, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver City Council members unanimously approved the move Monday. The money will go toward “shelter costs, medical supplies, workplace safety supplies, and other items required for the city’s response,” a document explaining the allocation states.To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):
Apr 27

Colorado lawmakers are looking at how to close a $3 billion budget shortfall. Here’s the roadmap.

The Joint Budget Committee will begin reviewing recommendations for spending cuts this week to rewrite the $30 billion state budget

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the $30 billion-plus state budget begins to take shape this week as lawmakers consider massive spending cuts.

How much tax revenue Colorado will lose to the paralyzed economy remains uncertain, but the governor’s budget office is projecting $3 billion in lost revenue for the current fiscal year and the next.

The General Assembly’s budget writers on Monday will start reviewing recommendations from legislative analysts for potential spending cuts across all government agencies. The documents are expected to include scenarios for slashing budgets as much as 20% and force legislators to make hard choices that will impact most Colorado families, according to drafts reviewed by The Colorado Sun.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Apr 01

Against uncertain backdrop, the tax overhaul backed by Colorado’s governor and state lawmakers limps ahead

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis greets the crowd as he walks to the podium to deliver his second State of the State address at the state Capitol on Jan. 9, 2020 in Denver. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Gov. Jared Polis announced a task force in January to study the state’s tax breaks, building on the General Assembly’s efforts, but it may stall

After years of groundwork, 2020 was supposed to be the time for Colorado tax reform.

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis kicked off his second year in office by doubling down on his pledge to eliminate special interest tax breaks to fund broad tax cuts. A legislative study group came into the session with an agenda of its own. And the state auditor’s office in January released a damning evaluation of one of the state’s most expansive — and controversial — tax breaks, the Colorado enterprise zone program.

Two months later, the tax overhaul effort is suddenly in limbo, like most everything else. The coronavirus has uprooted the legislative session, halting deliberations indefinitely. And even if lawmakers return to their duties, it’s not clear that a tax code rewrite will be a priority when the legislature reboots.

“Right now, nobody knows what’s going to happen,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, the Commerce City Democrat who chaired the interim study committee.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Mar 19

Explore the Colorado State Budget

 

Michael Fields@MichaelCLFields

Here’s a good tool to better understand our state budget. It’s much more accessible than what’s been previously available from the state.

KC Becker@kcbecker
If you’re looking for something to read while #socialdistancing, we’ve launched a tool to help you understand the Colorado Budget! Find simple explanations on where revenue comes from, how taxes are spent, TABOR, school financing, and much more!

To see where the money comes in and goes out in Colorado’s state budget, click (HERE):

 

Mar 12

Paid leave, petitions ballot measures land in state Supreme Court

The Colorado Supreme Court In Denver
The Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in downtown Denver, home of the Colorado Supreme Court.

Five additional challenges to proposed ballot initiatives went to the Colorado Supreme Court this week, as opponents seek to block measures pertaining to paid leave, tax policy and the petitioning process from the November statewide ballot.

Kelly Brough, the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, filed four of the challenges. She wrote in a court petition that she believed Initiative 245, which would create a right to ballot initiative at virtually every level of state and local government, had a misleading ballot title because it omitted descriptions of several key features from the complex measure.

Specifically, she argued that the title should inform voters of a reduction in signatures required to put an initiative on the ballot, of newly-assigned jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to hear initiative protests and of prohibitions on legislation from the General Assembly on topics that voters previously rejected through referendum.

The three-member Title Board sets the ballot titles for voters if they determine that an initiative constitutes a single subject. The title must include the central components of the proposal, but also be brief.

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Mar 04

Title Board to take on marijuana repeal, enterprises in ballot measure hearing

Title Board rehearing on 2/19/20
Title Board members David Powell (left) and Theresa Conley listen to an argument during the board’s meeting of Feb. 19, 2020.

The Colorado Initiative Title Setting Review Board on Wednesday will consider whether to set ballot titles for 10 proposed initiatives, and will weigh challenges to 16 measures previously given clearance.

In the current period for measures eligible for the November 2020 ballot, the Title Board has seen a flood of proposals from interest groups and individuals pushing through minor variations of the same initiative. Their strategy serves to guard against challenges and to have time to consider which single measure to ultimately pursue.

Wednesday’s scheduled proposals pertain to tobacco and nicotine taxes, state enterprises and repeal of recreational marijuana.

Voter Approval Requirement for Creation of Certain Fee-Based Enterprises (Initiatives 273-275): These proposals would require statewide voter approval for the creation of new enterprises that are projected to meet certain revenue thresholds in the first three to five years, ranging from $50 million to $100 million. Enterprises are self-supporting, government-owned businesses that have bonding authority and are exempt from the requirements of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The designated representatives are Michael Fields of Parker and Lindsey Singer of Highlands Ranch.

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