Mar 10

Lessons from 30 Years of TEL Experience

Yes, you can get involved in your city or state.  TABOR gives citizens the right to vote yes or no on the government increasing your taxes.  To learn more, send an email to info@theTABORcommittee.com

The first tax and expenditure limitation (TEL) was proposed by California Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1972. In the years since then, numerous states have adopted TELs. By studying these laws, we have discovered principles and design concepts for effective tax limitation.

State TELS

In spring 1978, under the leadership of State Rep. David Copeland, the people of Tennessee adopted the first constitutional tax limitation measure in the nation, the work product of a state constitutional convention.

Then came Proposition 13 in California in June 1978. While not itself a TEL (it was primarily a limitation on the growth of property taxes), Prop. 13 was the catalyst that ignited a national tax revolt. Things began to happen quickly across the country:

  • Arizona, under the leadership of then-Senate Majority Leader Sandra Day O’Connor, adopted a TEL referendum in 1978.
  • In November 1978, Michigan adopted the Headlee Amendment, which restricted state spending as a share of personal income.
  • In 1979, California adopted a Prop. 1-type TEL (the Gann Limit) that for the first time limited the growth of state spending by measuring it against inflation and population or per-capita personal income growth, instead of a percentage of state personal income growth, which really tightened the year-over-year control over taxes and government spending.
  • Also in 1979, Washington State adopted a TEL (Initiative 62).
  • In 1980, Missouri adopted the Hancock Amendment, again using a percentage of state personal income growth as the measure.
  • In 1980, Massachusetts’s Prop. 2 ½ drew heavily on the language of California’s Prop. 1 in order to control the growth of local governments.

Lessons Learned

Many other states have since adopted constitutional or statutory controls. But many were not tough enough or sufficiently well enforced or honored to be effective. Circumvention began in earnest in Missouri as the legislature and courts played games with the revenue base and school financing. In California in 1989, wily Assembly Speaker Willie Brown corrupted the Gann Limit formula in a statewide initiative devoted to improving California’s roads and highways. Continue reading

Feb 25

Judge throws out Gaylord Rockies Hotel tax vote, Aurora appeals

Judge throws out Gaylord Rockies Hotel tax vote, Aurora appeals

Gaylord Entertainment Aurora hotel

An artist rendering of Gaylord Entertainment’s plans to develop a resort and convention hotel in Aurora, Colo. (Provided by Gaylord Entertainment)

An Adams County district judge on Tuesday invalidated an election used to boost tax rates within the land set aside for the Gaylord Rockies Hotel, a decision that Aurora quickly filed to appeal.

“The city did not obtain the required voter approval for the tax increases purportedly authorized at that election,” ruled Ted C. Tow III, a judge in the 17th Judicial District.

Aurora filed a notice of appeal within hours of the ruling and said the project to create the state’s largest hotel remains on track.

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:
http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_27589880/judge-throws-out-gaylord-rockies-hotel-tax-vote

RELATED STORIES
Feb 21

Ruling in Favor of County in Stormwater Utility Lawsuit

Adams County Judge Mark Warner today ruled in favor of the county in a lawsuit filed by county residents who opposed the stormwater utility fee that was approved by the Board of County Commissioners in 2012.

“Throughout this process the county has maintained the belief that the stormwater utility is a fee, not a tax and is necessary to provide storm water related services and facilities,” said Commissioner Chaz Tedesco.

In his ruling (attached), Judge Warner validated that belief:

WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment and DENIES plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment. The utility is a government-owned business that receives less than ten percent of its funds from state and local authorities combined, and is therefore an “enterprise” that is exempted from TABOR. Further, defendant has not engaged in an unconstitutional “bait and switch” by imposing the fee and using it, in part, for administrative and personnel costs. Further, the Court concludes the stormwater utility fee is reasonably related to the overall cost of providing services related water drainage and water related activities in the service area. Thus, based upon the foregoing interpretation of Colorado law, the stormwater utility charge is a fee, not a tax and not subject to TABOR. The Court concludes the plaintiffs have not proved that the County’s legislative decision is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt.

http://www.co.adams.co.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=491

Jan 30

The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Colorado’s TABOR law

POLITICS

The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Colorado’s TABOR law

By Mark K. Matthews
The Denver Post

POSTED:   01/12/2015 12:01:00 AM MST

Douglas Bruce, author of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, is pictured in 2005.

Douglas Bruce, author of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, is pictured in 2005.

 

WASHINGTON — If Colorado politics were like daytime TV, then the state’s controversial TABOR law would be its longest-running soap opera.

Few issues can match the drama — and staying power — of the 1992 measure, which has survived repeated attempts to dismantle its requirement that lawmakers get permission from voters before raising taxes.

Now, though, the so-called Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is getting a shot at prime time. As soon as Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of a lawsuit against TABOR.

To read the rest of this article, click the following link:
http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_27302332/supreme-court-is-considering-challenge-colorados-tabor-law

Jan 29

Monday is the Trial date for TABOR vs RTD/SCFD court case

TABOR Supporter,

The TABOR Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the Regional Transportation District and the Science and Cultural Facilities District for their violations of TABOR.  The first court appearance will be on Monday, February 2 at 2:30 in courtroom 424 in the City and County Building (1437 Bannock St, Denver, 80202).  It would be a great show of support to have friends of TABOR present for at least part of the proceedings.  If anyone is able to attend, it would be good to know that ahead of the hearing on Monday.

Bob Foland
Executive Director
TABOR Foundation

(To refresh your memory, this is what the lawsuit is about)

TABOR group sues 2 special districts — RTD, SCFD — over new tax

By Monte Whaley
The Denver Post

POSTED:   10/24/2013

The nonprofit TABOR Foundation is suing to stop the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District from collecting sales tax on food, beverages, cigarettes, advertising materials and food containers.

The foundation filed a request for preliminary injunction Thursday in Jefferson County District Court, asking that the districts be blocked from collecting the tax starting Jan. 1, as allowed by a new state law.

House Bill 1272 lifted exemptions on items the districts could tax. Previously, sales of food, beverages, cigarettes, advertising materials and food containers were off limits to RTD and SCFD.

The tax is expected to net $2.7 million for RTD and $270,000 for SCFD next year, according to the complaint. Continue reading

Dec 15

“SHOULD 1st YEAR TAXES FROM PROP AA BE RETAINED?

This is disingenuous at best, but I would call it an outright lie. Marijuana taxes are less than the expected TABOR refunds. All the money goes into the general fund, where one dollar is indistinguishable from the next. It is more honest to say that thanks to marijuana taxes and an improving economy, the government coffers are overflowing and they will return money to the taxpayers.  Not according to Pat Steadman.  Read on:

“SHOULD 1st YEAR TAXES FROM PROP AA BE RETAINED?

If you’ve been keeping score, voters have twice voted to tax and regulate marijuana in Colorado. In 2012 we passed Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana and instructed the legislature to create laws for taxation and regulation. In 2013 the legislature referred Proposition AA to the ballot, proposing a tax scheme that voters overwhelmingly adopted.

But it doesn’t stop there – I’m working on a bill for 2015 that would ask voters to allow the tax revenues generated by Prop AA during its first full-year of implementation to be retained and spent. Yes, thanks to a peculiar provision of the TABOR Amendment, you’ll have to vote a third time to make the pot taxes work as intended. Continue reading

Dec 06

Diverging from Hickenlooper, Democrats consider not supporting tax refund

 Gov. John Hickenlooper issued an election-eve budget plan that supported taxpayer refunds next year, but his Democratic colleagues in the legislature are openly considering a move to spend the money.

The talk comes as the Joint Budget Committee continues preliminary meetings to craft the state budget and raises the specter of an intraparty showdown on one of the top legislative issues in the upcoming 2015 session.

Under the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, Colorado must return any tax collections in excess of its constitutional revenue cap, which is set by the rate of inflation plus population growth. Right now, the state forecasts a potential $130 million refund.

In a recent interview, noted in a story looking at Hickenlooper’s second term, incoming House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst made the most direct suggestion that Democrats may support a ballot measure in 2015 to ask voters to keep the money for state spending instead of issuing a refund

TABOR picture“If we don’t do anything as a state, we are going to be spending almost as much money as we refund, refunding money to people, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of common sense to me,” the Boulder Democrat said. “The people would be far better off if we invested that in infrastructure, education — something that really benefited them rather than (them) getting their 50 bucks to spend on a tank of gas or something.”

Hullinghorst didn’t elaborate, but the cost for refunding TABOR is typically negligible because it’s done through tax filings.

Continue reading

Oct 28

Colorado Goes to the Supreme Court to Defend TABOR

Three years ago, a group of primarily government plaintiffs sued in federal district court to void Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR). TABOR allows the people, not just the legislature, to vote on most tax increases, most debt increases, and some spending hikes.

http://blog.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2014/10/colorado-goes-to-the-supreme-court-to-defend-tabor/

Oct 08

Adams County District Court Judge Ted Tow rules that lawsuit challenging Aurora Gaylord project can proceed

Adams County District Court Judge Ted C. Tow ruled last Friday (29 August 2014) that a lawsuit challenging tax incentives offered by the city of Aurora to developers of the Gaylord hotel project can go forward.  Plaintiffs had challenged Aurora’s tax incentives – including creation of an “enhanced taxing area” and a special election to raise taxes to finance the project – violated Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

As reported in a recent Colorado Springs Gazette article,

The Aurora City Council ?authorized the enhanced taxing area and the election to raise taxes at a meeting in June 2011. Only one person voted in the election as the land included in the taxing area is owned by a single corporate entity.

Rather takes the “one man, one vote” principle to a whole new level, eh?

Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts.  We will continue to work to educate voters and provide information of relevance related to the judicial branch, and to provide useful and substantive evaluations of judicial performance.

However, we can’t do it alone –  we need your continued support; via your comments (Sound Off!) and, yes, your contributions.  Freedom isn’t free –nor is it always easy to be a Citizen, not a subject.

Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.

http://www.clearthebenchcolorado.org/2014/09/01/adams-county-district-court-judge-ted-tow-rules-that-lawsuit-challenging-aurora-gaylord-project-can-proceed/