The Mesa County Republican Party is inviting the public to come to a free presentation on the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, delivered by conservative think-tank leader Jon Caldara on March 27.
Caldara, the president of the Denver-based Independence Institute, is a proponent of limited government and plans to speak in favor of keeping TABOR intact, despite talk from both sides of the political aisle recently about tweaking the formula that limits government spending and requires taxpayer consent to use funds in excess of spending limits.
TABOR was voted into the Colorado Constitution 26 years ago, and the original intent of the law was to limit government growth and require taxpayers to approve tax-rate increases.
Critics have said the ratcheting effect TABOR has on spending has prevented governments from recovering from leaner times, especially in local governments that depend on property taxes for funding when those property valuations decrease.
Caldara has defended TABOR in the past, stating it prevents further problems during recession and helps keep governments from experiencing vast budget shortfalls. He also used an analogy comparing TABOR to obtaining consent for sexual contact in a column last year for the Denver Post, titled, “Why date rapists hate TABOR.”
Bringing Caldara to speak in Grand Junction on TABOR is timely, said Marjorie Haun, who handles publicity for the Mesa County Republican Party. Haun said she noticed some confusion about TABOR during the 2017 election, in which the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office asked voters to raise sales taxes to support their budgets in the “Back the Badge” campaign. Continue reading →
You know that your TABOR Foundation filed a lawsuit to stop the collection of the Hospital Provider tax and program until the new tax receives its required voter approval. We also had to amend the lawsuit to include all the wrong-headed, errant and unconstitutional provisions that affected the program with the passage of Senate Bill 267 last year. That measure will allow an increase of state taxes of (at least) $400 million per year, without the required TABOR vote. It also moved the welfare program that is the Hospital Provider fund off the books by renaming it as a government business.
We wanted to let you know that there has been significant activity on that lawsuit. It had been filed originally in 2015 but was not taken up by the Court for 18 months. Within the past several months, our attorneys at Mountain States Legal Foundation filed the amended complaint. They have answered copious number of briefs to:
obtain permission to make that filing,
to resist unsuccessfully the addition as Defendants of the Hospital Association, and
to add to our own list of Plaintiffs
In addition, a lot more activity has taken place with the procedure of Discovery. Just last week, I was deposed for nearly four hours by opposition attorneys, and another TABOR Foundation Director, Rebecca Sopkin, withstood another two hours of grilling. Our attorneys have taken depositions from the Defendants.
Our attorneys must also deal with the Defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit altogether, as they allege among other things, that there is no remedy (“relief”) for the problems we have cited. There is also an important motion for summary judgment that is in process. Unless one of those two motions is successful, we will see this lawsuit go to trial in late June.
We’ll try to keep you apprised of further developments as they occur. The speed that new steps are occurring and the demands on our volunteer time are such that we have been running out of time to inform you in a timely manner.
Thank you for your support of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights!
The TABOR Committee and its sister organization, the TABOR Foundation, are active in protecting this important constitutional provision. You recently signed up to receive informational emails from our organizations. We do not clutter your inbox with extraneous self-promotion nor do we mail periodicals. You will receive short notices only when developments warrant.
There was a time when our town only had two grocery stores and a handful of gas stations.
Before the redevelopment of our downtown core — before the factory outlet — and even before our state recognized the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), our town services subsisted on the grocery tax. Because we had nothing else.
We paid for our cops, built our roads, and ran a town government through the direct taxation of the milk and bread that was purchased at those two, small grocery stores.
But we aren’t that small town anymore.
With the addition of the Promenade and continued improvement in the economy, we are seeing our town coffers grow to more than $44 million in sales tax revenue in 2017 alone. In 2016, that number was $39 million.
Yet in spite of a healthy and diversified economy here in town, we continue to incorporate the most regressive sales tax imaginable.
A furor was stirred up in Grand Lake earlier this year after town officials announced the implementation of a new municipal fee, and now one state advocacy group is calling into question the fee’s legitimacy.
In late January, the Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights Committee, or TABOR, the advocacy arm of the independent TABOR Foundation, issued a letter to Grand Lake’s town government, contesting the legal basis for the recently adopted fee, which imposes an additional $100 charge on each water tap within the community. The charge has been earmarked to pay for law enforcement and emergency dispatch services as well as street lighting.
“New receipts are to be deposited to the general fund and are intended to cover expenses that are traditionally core functions of town governance, namely street lighting and safety,” read the letter from the TABOR Committee. “Although the Colorado Constitution clearly calls for citizens to vote on all new taxes, you are trying to avoid the plain language of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by identifying the new tax as a ‘fee.'” Continue reading →
Some Republican state legislators remind us that no one’s life is a complete waste — some simply serve as bad examples. One of those bad examples can be found in Colorado. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)
Congress just proved an amazing thing happens when Republicans remember to govern as Reagan Republicans.
The most substantial tax overhaul since the Reagan years has sparked our economy. Republicans in Congress gathered the courage to face down the pro-tax media, special interests, and the opposition of every single Democrat in Congress to help families keep more of what they earn. Already tax reform has resulted in at least 285 companies announcing wage increases, bonuses, and higher 401(k) matches for 3 million workers. Utility companies are reducing rates in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Continue reading →
To comprehend how that’s possible, we need to understand the largest betrayal of Republican values in Colorado political history: the tax-hiking, debt-raising, TABOR-busting Senate Bill 267, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and enabled by the schizophrenic leadership of Senate President Kevin Grantham.
The beauty of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is that taxes and debt can grow as high as any communist would like, all you have to do is ask the voters first. But elected officials, doing their best Bernie Madoff, don’t want to ask for consent when they know the answer is going to be “no.” They re-label taxes as “fees” and debt as “certificates of participation,” so the Colorado Supreme Court lets them take our money without our voter consent.
In 2009, without asking, the state forced an extra tax on us when we’re sick and have to go to the hospital. In their best George Orwell, the legislature named this tax “The Hospital Provider Fee,” as if hospitals, not patients, pay it. The new “fee” generated more than $650 million in 2016, pushing Colorado’s revenue over its TABOR cap.
Regional Transportation District trains, Scientific and Cultural Facilities District museums and other beneficiaries of special-district funding soon will be on a path to again receive the revenues from retail marijuana sales that they’d been losing since July.
Colorado senators on Tuesday approved a “fix” for the language that has left those districts unable to collect sales taxes for cannabis sales within their district since shortly after an omnibus funding bill from the 2017 session was signed into law. Affected organizations have warned that while the problem has not led to program cuts yet, it could do so in the future if it’s not remedied.
The fix to the error made in Senate Bill 267 is not one with unanimous support, having passed to the House Tuesday on a final vote of 24-10. Republican leaders warned not only that they feel the bill is unconstitutional, but that districts that re-start the collection of marijuana taxes without a vote of the people may be challenged in court.
Still, the organizations likely to begin receiving more money in the near future cheered Thursday’s vote to pass Senate Bill 88 out of the Republican-majority Senate and onto the Democrat-led House, where leaders have expressed support for the fix.
“Right now we’ve been able to absorb that loss of revenue. But long-term it’s definitely going to affect what we’re able to do,” said Scott Reed, assistant general manager for communications at RTD, which has lost about $500,000 a month. “This is a step in the right direction to correct the inadvertent mistake from Senate Bill 267.” Continue reading →
“We made great strides in 2017 defending TABOR and advancing policies that promote economic freedom,” Jesse Mallory, AFP’s state director and the former Colorado Senate Republicans’ chief of staff, said in a statement.
When El Paso County asked voters in 2012 to impose a .23 percent sales tax to fund the Sheriff’s Office, the ballot question said the new tax would raise “approximately $17 million” annually.
Turns out, it raised $17,898,721 in the first year and even more every year since. But the county hasn’t made a move to either lower the tax or refund the extra money.
Now, anti-taxer Douglas Bruce wants to force the issue. He filed a lawsuit on Dec. 26 seeking a refund to taxpayers of that roughly $900,000, with 10 percent interest per year for four years, and a reduction in the tax rate to prevent future excess collections.
That’s what he says is required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a state constitutional amendment that Bruce authored, which was adopted by voters in 1992. TABOR states that if a tax increase generates revenue that exceeds an estimate contained in the election notice ballot measure, the tax rate must be lowered in subsequent years and the excess refunded in the next fiscal year.
“They are only supposed to get whatever they asked for,” Bruce says, noting in the lawsuit that TABOR provisions were designed to “prevent government from ‘lowballing’ the true cost of what it requests in order to lure voters to support it.” Continue reading →