Apr 02

Alaska Voices: It’s time for a spending cap that works

…While more than half of states currently have some form of tax and expenditure limit, the most effective is Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which constitutionally limits spending growth to the rate of inflation plus estimated population growth. The stable budget and tax climate created by TABOR has served Coloradans remarkably well. Over the past decade, Colorado’s gross state product (GSP) has grown by 45.5%, personal income has grown by 59.5%, and non-farm payroll employment has grown by 15.8%.

By comparison, during the same time period, Alaska’s GSP growth was 0%, personal income growth was 33.5%, and non-farm payroll employment growth was 0.3%.

But it’s not just Colorado that has benefited from a functional tax and expenditure limit. Nationwide, states with tax and expenditure limits have outperformed states without them in GSP growth, personal income growth, and employment growth…

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Apr 02

A free-market approach to reviving the economy amid COVID-19 distress

…Once the COVID-19 crisis subsides, the federal government should wholeheartedly work toward a reduction in both federal spending and the national debt. There are many pro-taxpayer fiscal rules to choose from, including the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) in Colorado, or a meaningful balanced budget amendment, like the one Indiana voters overwhelmingly inserted into their state constitution in 2018….

© Getty

According to economist Arthur Laffer, President Ronald Reagan had a great response when asked by staff what to do about one of the economic crises of the 1980s: “Don’t just stand there, go undo something!”

This rings true amid our current situation. Yet some elected officials are inclined to impose a new law or regulation to address an economic crisis. In some cases that reaction is warranted. However, harkening back to the words of Reagan, some of the most effective government responses to aid individuals in the economy can revolve around repealing or suspending burdensome taxes and regulations. While many of the innovative policy solutions are currently happening at the state and local level, federal policymakers have major opportunities as well.

For instance, the economy would greatly benefit from a suspension of the Jones Act. Passed in 1920, the Jones Act requires all ships transporting goods between United States ports be U.S. owned, U.S. crewed, U.S. registered and U.S. built. As researchers at the Cato Institute point out, this results in higher prices for American consumers, to the tune of $1.8 billion each year. Fewer ships are available to transport needed goods in the supply chain, which is especially worrisome during a pandemic.

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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.

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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 12

NEW COLORADO BALLOT PROPOSAL

Increase taxes on rich, lower them for rest

Coloradans may be voting this November on a proposal to raise billions of dollars annually by hiking taxes on the rich and using the money on schools and other, unspecified needs of a “growing population and changing economy.”

An issue committee that calls itself Fair Tax Colorado announced Thursday that it will begin collecting signatures to place its proposal, titled Initiative 271, on the 2020 ballot. They’ll need at least 124,632 of them to qualify for the ballot.

It would compensate for the loss in revenue from the tax cut by requiring everyone earning at least $250,000 to pay a 7% income tax rate on their federal taxable income after the first $250,000 and up to $500,000.

Anyone earning more than $500,000 would then pay a 7.75% rate on their income above and beyond the first $500,000, and up to $1 million. Finally, for anyone earning more than $1 million, the measure proposes to tax them $67,700 plus 8.9% of all federal taxable income above and beyond the first million

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Mar 04

Colorado Department of Revenue hopes to start taxing digital movies, music and books

DENVER —The Colorado Department of Revenue will be meeting to gather input before considering changes to the tax code that would make a movie streamed or downloaded from Amazon — among other digital items — taxable in Colorado, a move that has some questioning if this circumvents the state constitution’s requirement that new or increased taxes get voter approval first.

The “stakeholder workgroup” is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 4 at 1313 Sherman St. Room 220 in Denver to “discuss the promulgation of a sales tax rule to clarify the department’s treatment of digital goods as tangible property.”

The department defines “stakeholder workgroup” as a forum for the department to gather information from stakeholders. It occurs before the actual rulemaking hearing. Stakeholders are defined as “individuals who have particular knowledge of the issues being discussed … to provide relevant information, opinions, and constructive feedback and suggestions.”

The public is invited to give input. Anyone who cannot attend in person can request a conference number to call in at dor_taxrules@state.co.us or by submitting comments via email to the same address.

According to a draft of the proposed change to rule 39-26-102(15) “Tangible Personal Property,” “the purpose of this rule is to provide clarification on the definition of tangible personal property.”

Laura Carno, founder of SpringsTaxpayers.com, said regardless of what they choose to call it, when they take more money from the people, they need to ask permission. She called this process a violation of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

“The fact that they are doing this through rulemaking instead of doing it properly by asking the voters shows the contempt they have for taxpayers.,” Carno said. “They just look at us as their ATM.”

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Mar 04

TABOR repeal is off the table for 2020. Now it’s Initiative 271, a $2 billion tax hike targeting the wealthy

Vision 2020 Colorado, a coalition behind a tax system overhaul, tells The Sun it will move forward with a graduated income tax measure that will lower taxes for the vast majority

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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