Bipartisan bill proposes fee-based hazard mitigation enterprise; to fall outside TABOR revenue limits
January 22, 2020 By Scott Weiser
Hazard mitigation controlled burn
Courtesy of W. Perry Conway
DENVER–House members Matt Soper, R-Grand Junction and Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County are proposing to create a new state-owned hazard mitigation enterprise that would collect a 0.05% fee on certain policies from insurance companies.
The enterprise would in part “assist entities that apply for federal grants that require matching funds and are dedicated to assisting in the implementation of pre-disaster hazard mitigation measures.”
Other tasks include “public education on the importance of insurance in buying down risk and for the continuity of business operations, and provide local governments technical information and support on natural hazard mitigation through land use and building codes.”
Re: “Colorado must draw a line between ‘tax’ and ‘fee,’ ” Jan. 6.
As TABOR’s author, I fought many traps our foes set for us. We went down their rabbit trail of theoretical debates … twice.
The 1988 TABOR covered “fees” that yearly increase above inflation. Foes used examples like library card fees increasing 10%, which may be a quarter. “We can’t vote all the time” on trivial sums.
The 1990 fight allowed increases rounded up to the next dollar. Same result. We can’t set a limit — say, $50 million — on a fee increase; they will simply increase 50 fees $40 million each. They will also increase licenses, permits, etc.
In 1992, we switched “fee v. tax ” details for revenue spending limits. The Establishment took OUR bait. The issue was our right to vote at all, and we won. Set the agenda and frame the issue, and you win the debate.
Our foes then violated TABOR for 28 years, by saying road and bridge “fees” are for “enterprises,” though they clearly violate the definition. Ditto hospital provider fees, the Dirty Dozen in 2009, and dozens more.
DENVER — It’s official. Coloradans will be giving less to Colorado state government in 2020.
Income tax rates will be decreasing from a flat 4.63% to 4.5%.
The decrease was mandated by the Colorado State Constitution and the Taxpayer Bills of Rights (TABOR) which limits how much government can grow each year.
Passed in 1992, this is the first year TABOR has triggered cuts. As opposed to sending checks to taxpayers, income tax rates will be cut instead.
If we asked readers to give us their honest feedback about Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution, we doubt we’d get any. Who, besides lawmakers or legislative staff, could even hazard a guess as to what issue that part of the Constitution addresses?
But if we asked readers to give us their honest feedback about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, that’s a different story. Even if you didn’t have a firm position on whether it affects the state’s ability to deliver government services, you’d at least be familiar with the general subject matter.
Ballot proposals would move the state back toward a graduated tax
If the fight over Colorado tax policy were a sporting event, half the stadium would be empty.
With the November defeat of Proposition CC, fiscal conservatives have taken the field, and a contest over the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights feels like a foregone conclusion.
But to Democrats and aligned interest groups, policy losses such as tax hikes for schools, roads and higher education just mean they haven’t found the right game plan.
“What I took away from Prop CC was that was not the solution,” said Carol Hedges of the Colorado Fiscal Institute, a liberal tax policy group. “That solution didn’t address the concerns of the folks who voted in that election, and we have an obligation to solve these problems.”
So a month after voters defeated the measure to eliminate the state’s spending cap, Hedges’ organization is playing offense and has introduced an eye-popping 35 tax-related ballot initiatives for 2020. The specifics vary proposal to proposal, but one theme unites them: creating a tax code that requires the wealthy to pay more to fund public services.
By a vote of 55% to 45%, you helped defeat Prop CC to remove TABOR spending limits, but they’re at it again.
Anti-TABOR activists are already testing ballot language for a 2020 initiative to unwind your Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. With a high Democratic voter turnout, they see next year’s election as their chance to amend the State Constitution to give government taxing authority without a vote of the people.
The TABOR Foundation educates voters on how the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights protects their livelihood and why it matters to their family’s future.
We give seminars, media interviews, social media updates, and we’re a primary contact for citizens asking for help when their local jurisdictions violate TABOR mandates. Importantly, we engage in legal action to protect TABOR.
Defending freedom costs time – and money. We need more help. What can you do to help us?
Please send your donation of $50, $100, $150 or more. Checks payable to TABOR Foundation, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, may be tax deductible as allowed by law.
And, we welcome your service with our Board of Directors, Speakers Bureau, or in some other capacity. Please call me to talk about being more involved. Thanks!
Penn R. Pfiffner
720 Kipling St.
Lakewood, CO 80215