Jul 04

Guest Commentary: Supreme Court’s order great for TABOR

By Rob Natelson

Posted:   07/03/2015 

Activist Douglas Bruce, author of TABOR and a constant proponent for cutting taxes, explained his latest proposal for cutting taxes to reporters and

Activist Douglas Bruce, author of TABOR and a constant proponent for cutting taxes, explained his latest proposal for cutting taxes to reporters and journalists at the state Capitol in November 1999. (Denver Post file photo)

 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent order in the case against Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) is a devastating blow to those seeking to overturn that part of the state constitution. The Supreme Court’s order amounts to a polite directive to the lower court to dismiss the suit.

Colorado voters approved TABOR in 1992. It offers several protections for Colorado’s financial health. It allows voter review when legislative bodies pass increases in taxes or debt, or adopt unusually high increases in spending. Under TABOR, the state legislature and local councils continue to initiate all financial measures, but the people are allowed to review some of them.

Four years ago, 34 plaintiffs, including a handful of state lawmakers, sued in federal court to have TABOR declared void. They argued that allowing the people to` check the legislature’s financial powers violated the Guarantee Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That’s the section that says that “the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”

The plaintiffs’ claims are not entirely consistent with each other. But their essence is that because TABOR reduced the financial power of the state legislature, it rendered Colorado a “direct democracy” without a “Republican Form of Government.”

From its inception, the plaintiffs’ case has teetered on the edge of probability. Its legal problems are many.

 

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Penn Pfiffner Discusses TABOR on Saturday, July 11th

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Saturday, July 11th, Penn Pfiffner of The TABOR Foundation discusses what TABOR is, how it works, and why Colorado is unique because of it to the North Suburban Republican Forum (NSRF).

Admission is $3 for NSRF members and $5 for non-members.

Coffee, bottled water, orange juice, fruit, and pastries is included.

 
They meet at Horan & McConaty’s Community Room, 9998 Grant St in Thornton from 9:00am-11:00am. Doors open at 8:30am.
 

Horan & McConaty google map

Jun 25

U.S. Supreme Court set to report whether it will hear TABOR case

Colorado court watchers are waiting with baited breath for the nation’s highest court to say whether it will consider a case challenging the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court isn’t considering the merits of a 2011 lawsuit, brought by a group of current and former elected officials, including state Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder. Instead, the court is expected to announce whether justices are granting certiorari and will hear the case or whether they’re sending it back to a lower court.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in May 2011. Attorneys for the State of Colorado filed a motion to dismiss at that time, claiming the plaintiffs lack standing to file the lawsuit and arguing that the case itself is a political question, which federal courts typically avoid.

The District Court denied the motion and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals then denied a request by the state for a rehearing, leaving the Supreme Court to decide.

“We’re not yet at the point where (the Supreme Court) could be asked the merits of the case,” said David Skaggs, an attorney for the group that filed the suit.

The court considered the Petition for Writ of Certiorari in conference on Jan. 9 but has not yet issued a decision on it, a delay Skaggs called unusual.

Typically, when the court considers what’s commonly known as a Cert Petition in conference, it announces whether the petition has been granted or denied within a week or two.

“I think it means they’re taking [the issues] seriously,” said David Kopel, an attorney with the Independence Institute, who wrote an amicus brief supporting the state’s arguments in the case.

If the court grants certiorari, then the case will be set for oral arguments during next year’s session, which begins on Oct. 5. If certiorari is denied, the case will return to U.S. District Court in Denver for a hearing on the merits of the lawsuit.

 

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Jun 20

EDITORIAL: Debt and Taxes… and a New County Courthouse, Part Two

Read Part One

Near the conclusion of the friendly, 40-minute meeting between the Archuleta Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton last Tuesday morning, we heard a brief summary, from Mr. Stapleton about the state’s new “Pay for Success” legislation — a new law meant to entice private companies to get involved with public education and child care, by subsidizing those companies with taxpayer revenues. Then the BOCC thanked Mr. Stapleton for his visit, and he assured them that his Denver office could help with the County’s courthouse issues.

“I’m happy to be here,” said Mr. Stapleton. “I’ll pass out my business cards, and you can follow up with me on the Courthouse, and I can put you into a point of contact.” Everyone shook hands.

The view of the existing Archuleta County Jail, from the scenic Pagosa Springs River Walk along the San Juan River.

The next item on the morning work session agenda was the draft Community Development Action Plan, better known as the CDAP. This document, which will be approved by the BOCC later this year, typically lists every possible “development” project that might, at some point, try and lay its hands on federal government grants or loans. As you can see from the 12-page draft document (which you can download here,) our community has a number of ongoing or future projects that the federal government — along with numerous other government agencies, and various non-profit and for-profit companies — might wish to support financially: a “geothermal greenhouse” project in Centennial Park, expansion of the Pagosa Springs Medical Center, a new taxiway at the County airport, a proposed charter school… and two dozen other development proposals.

 

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Jun 12

Guest Commentary: Freedom’s 800th birthday

 

By Douglas Bruce
 Douglas Bruce, the author of the Taxpayer s Bill of Rights, in 2012 filed an objection to Amendment 64.  (Denver Post file)
Douglas Bruce, the author of the Taxpayer s Bill of Rights, in 2012 filed an objection to Amendment 64. (Denver Post file)

 

 

Tradition accepts June 15, 1215, as the start of limited government in Anglo-American law. Magna Carta (“the great charter’) was signed under duress by King John. John was the brother and successor to Richard the Lion Heart, whose loyal subjects included that tax rebel, Robin Hood. King John was known for his predatory and avaricious taxation.

Monarchs proclaimed the divine right of kings, asserting their absolute power came directly from God. English barons rejected King John’s tax tyrannies and other autocratic acts. Magna Carta ordained that even a king must honor the law. He could no longer summarily jail or execute any one without due process of law. Taxes would be limited; some would require baronial consent. A council of 25 barons could restrain the king’s illegal actions by seizing his lands and castles until he obeyed the law.

Magna Carta has a turbulent legacy. Over later centuries, it was rejected, affirmed, and revised. It has survived to be idealized as the first formal adoption of the Rule of Law.

The tenets of Magna Carta were echoed in later English political documents and by America’s Founding Fathers. Other tax protests include Lady Godiva’s famous ride and stories of William Tell, Zorro, and other folk heroes. Its lineage covers the Boston Tea Party and our Revolutionary War slogan, “No taxation without representation.”

This fall, Colorado’s homage to Magna Carta, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, will again be attacked by avaricious and predatory politicians. Why? The rapacious marijuana tax on the 2013 ballot has been exposed as a fraud.

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Jun 06

You vote: What should Colorado do with pot taxes?

DENVER—For the third time since 2012, Colorado voters will decide a ballot question on the sales of recreational marijuana.

This year, voters will be asked to prevent a refund of the first year’s marijuana taxes that has been triggered by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) in the state constitution.

VOTE in the 9NEWS Morning poll: Colorado voters will decide in November if the State will keep an estimated $58 million in marijuana revenue. Should the state, keep it or return it? Vote below or click here:

Even though the expected $58 million raised by taxing pot in the first fiscal year of sales is roughly $10 million lower than predicted, TABOR requires a refund of the tax because state economists underestimated the overall size of today’s state budget back in 2013.

This requirement of TABOR only applies to newly-enacted taxes and also will require the state to switch the tax off one time only, resulting in a tax holiday on the special sales tax for pot this September.

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) signed HB 1367 on Thursday, which will create a 2015 ballot question asking voters to block a marijuana tax refund. Continue reading

May 28

ColoradoCare is a $25 billion trojan horse

“A new health care tax? Aguilar needs to give it a rest. She’s been pushing this unpopular idea for years. Coloradans need to know who is supporting this trojan horse proposal. The worst of the proposal is that it would exempt future revenues from this new tax from TABOR. A board would then be able to crank up taxes on Coloradans at their own whim.” – Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado.

While Initiative 20 proponents and the ColoradoCareYES campaign are ramping up their campaign to foist a trojan horse tax hike on Coloradans, supporter state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, has been rather quiet. 


Aguilar killed her own universal health care bill during the 2013 legislative session because it was so unpopular. That bill was charged as being a “$16 billion dollar tax increase,” while still large pales in comparison to the newer $25 billion price tag that’s been estimated this year.

“A new health care tax? Aguilar needs to give it a rest. She’s been pushing this unpopular idea for years. Coloradans need to know who is supporting this trojan horse proposal. The worst of the proposal is that it would exempt future revenues from this new tax from TABOR. A board would then be able to crank up taxes on Coloradans at their own whim.” – Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado.

Analysts have debated in the past about the ability to truly figure out cost projections. According to CBS-4, Aguilar’s universal health care plan was so unprecedented and sweeping that cost projections weren’t available. Continue reading

May 26

Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Should Not Be Breached

A serious effort is underway in Colorado to bypass the effective tax and spending controls imposed by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and permanently increase the size of the state gov­ernment. TABOR limits how fast state tax revenues can grow by requiring that the state refund taxes collected over the limit to the taxpayers. Therefore, TABOR also, in effect, limits spending. This has kept the burden of state government low and has led to a stronger state economy.

But TABOR is under attack. Elected officials have placed Referendum C on the ballot for this fall, asking Colorado citizens to let the legislature keep (and spend) $3 billion in surplus taxes over TABOR limits instead of refunding those revenues to the taxpayers. As voters ponder this referendum, it is helpful to examine why TABOR was necessary and why it should be retained.

TABOR’s Background

Colorado voters passed TABOR in 1992 to end the undisciplined spending and tax increases of the 1980s, which increased the effective state income tax rate by 15 percent and the gasoline tax by 214 per­cent.[1] Chart 1 shows how effective TABOR has been in controlling spending. Before TABOR, state spend­ing increased dramatically in relation to taxpayers’ ability to pay, even briefly surpassing the national average. After TABOR, the burden of government declined and Colorado’s competitiveness with the rest of the nation improved.

One of the fundamental reasons to enact revenue and spending limits is to protect tax­payers from constantly rising demands on their pocketbooks. This in turn fosters a better environment for economic growth. Govern­ment can still grow, but at a slow and predict­able rate. Elected officials must then make honest, conscious decisions about where to direct resources across all state programs.

This means putting an end to the mental­ity of spending freely in the good years and raising taxes to cover those expenditures in the bad years-something that is as vital from a personal perspective for families try­ing to provide for their needs as it is from an economic perspective. TABOR has served that purpose well, effectively protecting both Colorado families and the state econ­omy from the ill effects of increasing taxes and government spending.

Why Taxes and Government Spending Are Counterproductive

High taxes harm economic performance. Continue reading

May 23

Ballot measures impact bill signed into law

Ballot measures impact bill signed into law

The Colorado Statesman

A new law will allow Colorado voters to know the fiscal impact of a ballot measure before petitions are circulated — a heavily debated effort that seemed doomed in the final hours of the recent legislative session.

The state had already been required to provide voters with cost-impact estimates of ballot measures, prior to an election. But House Bill 1057, which was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday, accelerates that process so that voters will know a proposal’s cost before they are asked to sign a petition.

In addition to fiscal impact estimates appearing in voter Blue Book election guides, the new law requires that estimates of a measure’s impact on government revenues, spending, taxes and fiscal liabilities be summarized on initiative petitions.
“Shouldn’t we know what the fiscal impact is going to be if we are going to propose putting something into the Constitution?” said Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, a bill sponsor.

Court said that fiscal notes are attached to bills before being considered by lawmakers and that the public should be afforded that same information. The Colorado Legislative Council makes those calculations for lawmakers and is also responsible for preparing fiscal impact statements for ballot initiatives.

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May 02

House Dems pushing fee change to prevent future TABOR refunds

House Dems pushing fee change to prevent future TABOR refunds | CPR

Democrats in Colorado’s state House are moving forward with an ambitious plan to hold onto hundreds of millions of dollars the state would otherwise have to send back to taxpayers.

Revenues are growing fast enough that the state will soon start sending out tax refunds as required by the Taxpayers Bills of Rights. But budget writers warn those refunds will make it a tough financial situation that much harder. K-12 schools and Medicaid are expected to consume most of the new money Colorado brings in over the next few years, leaving little left over for other areas, like higher education and transportation.

House Speaker Dickie Lee Hullinghorst believes she’s found a way around that squeeze. She wants to reclassify a major fee paid by hospitals in a way that makes it exempt from TABOR limits. That change would lower the total revenue amount covered by TABOR enough keep the state from having to pay refunds for years, giving lawmakers hundreds of millions more dollars to direct to state services.

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