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Even more redistribution coming soon to Colorado thanks to soon-to-be-ex-Governor Hickenlooper
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Nicolais: An attack on TABOR could leave Colorado Democrats feeling the squeeze
A court composed of mostly Hickenlooper appointees turns the governor down cold, setting up a possible legislative showdown
PUBLISHED ONDEC 9, 2018 5:55AM MST
Special to The Colorado Sun
Before walking out the door from the governor’s office, John Hickenlooper took one last shot at a Democratic boogeyman. Last week, the Colorado Supreme Court denied Hickenlooper’s parting attempt to undercut TABOR, the conservative taxpayer’s bill of rights enshrined in the Colorado constitution.
Democrats, have long derided TABOR for the constraints it places on government. Not only does TABOR require a vote of the people to approve tax increases, but several of its provisions work in conjunction with other laws to create a “ratcheting effect” on government spending.
If revenues drop during an economic downturn, they cannot return to prior levels as the economy rebounds. Instead, growth is artificially tied to the down year plus a pittance for inflation.
The ratchet works like boa constrictor wrapped around a person. With every breath out, the snake squeezes a little tighter and the next breathe in is a little shallower.
Eventually, no breath can be drawn, and the person dies. I’m sure it delights TABOR’s progenitor, the eccentric Douglas Bruce, to imagine the government being asphyxiated.
Democrats have a little different view; they see a snake crushing the life from Colorado citizens. Gasping for funds no longer available, state and local services wither and waste away. Continue reading
After the midterm elections, Colorado voters woke up to an electoral map as blue as the sky. Democrats won almost all competitive races, including every state office. They now control both houses of the state legislature. But before we permanently paint Colorado blue, we should consider the outcomes of a few statewide ballot measures.
In fact, Colorado voters rejected most of the thirteen ballot measures at the state level. All the ballot measures proposing increased taxes and/or debt were defeated by a wide margin, including measures to fund schools and transportation. However, citizens approved a majority of the state’s local school bond issues and funding packages.
The results of these ballot measures continue a trend that began when the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment (TABOR) was ratified in 1992. TABOR requires voter approval for any increase in taxes or debt, and has proven to be the most effective state tax and spending limit in the country. Since TABOR was adopted, very few state ballot measures calling for increased taxes or debt have been approved. However, at the local level the majority of these ballot measures have passed.
- By Bethany Blankley | Watchdog.org
- Dec 6, 201
Outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper asked the state Supreme Court to review the compatibility of two constitutional amendments governing the calculations of taxes to determine if one should be removed. The court rejected his request.
The 1982 Gallagher Amendment and the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), designed to protect taxpayers, Hickenlooper wrote, created an “irreconcilable conflict in Colorado’s Constitution.”
The Gallagher Amendment sets the percentage for taxing residential and commercial property owners according to a specific formula that allows the residential assessment rate (RAR) to fluctuate and maintain the ratio to prevent large, unexpected spikes in tax bills.
TABOR prevents local and state governments from increasing taxes without voter approval, including any changes to the Gallagher formula. Continue reading
The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from Gov. John Hickenlooper that sought to resolve what he believes are conflicts between the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and the Gallagher Amendment.
The Court did not provide a reason in denying the request.
Hickenlooper submitted “interrogatories” — a series of questions — on Nov. 20 that asked the Court to look at the conflicts between TABOR, passed by voters in 1992, and Gallagher, adopted by voters in 1982. Critics say the conflict is siphoning off tax revenue for schools and local government services, such as firefighting.
Those conflicts are “preventing local governments from funding even limited essential services,” Hickenlooper’s filing with the court said. “… It has resulted in the steady erosion of the budgets of local governments in communities throughout the state that rely on property taxes.”
The erosion is about to get a lot worse.
Colorado cities want to tap into online sales revenue. That means the state’s messy sales tax system could get messier.
In South Dakota v. Wayfair, Supreme Court ruled online taxes can’t be “burdensome” for interstate sales, but Colorado’s complex system will put the ruling to the test
As state regulators scramble to expand online sales taxes in the wake of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Colorado’s largest cities could suddenly find themselves missing out on a new funding spigot worth millions of dollars each year.
But if they try to get their piece of a growing tax pie — Denver alone could reap more than $5 million each year — experts say they’re just as likely to find themselves in federal court.
The net result could be a hybrid system unlike any other in the country: one that would effectively require out-of-state businesses to collect some sales taxes but not others.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned a de facto ban on interstate online sales taxes, ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair that a state can require online retailers to collect and remit sales taxes regardless of whether they have a physical presence there.
The catch: states aren’t allowed to put an excessive burden on interstate businesses. And where South Dakota’s system was designed to be simple and user-friendly, Colorado’s is notoriously complicated and cumbersome — so much so that tax experts across the country believe it’s the most likely test case for the lingering question from the Wayfair case: What exactly constitutes an excessive burden?
The question has complicated Colorado’s efforts to expand online sales taxes to out-of-state retailers. And it has left top policymakers, advocacy groups and business coalitions urging patience. Continue reading
PLF opposes illegal taxes in Colorado
The Colorado Secretary of State has been illegally charging businesses millions of dollars in unnecessary filing fees every year. Rather than refund those excess fees, the secretary funneled the money into his general budget, converting the fees into general tax revenue in violation of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. The National Federation of Independent Business sued to stop the unconstitutional fees, and the case is now before the Colorado Supreme Court.
- First, PLF urged the Colorado Supreme Court to do away with the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for unconstitutional laws, because it neuters the court’s ability to strike down unconstitutional laws and allows many unconstitutional laws to remain on the books.
- Second, PLF argued that the amount of a fee cannot exceed the cost of providing the service or regulation funded by the charge. Here, 90% of the business “fees” fund services and regulations totally unrelated to businesses.