Apr 23

Like HAL 9000, TABOR’s programming overrides will of voters

We disagree.  TABOR is the will of the voters.

What do you expect from Carol Hedge’s party when they can’t tax, tax, and tax some more so they can spend, spend, spend until Daddy takes the T-Bird away…. TABOR only says you can’t raise taxes without the voters approving the tax.

OPINION

Like HAL 9000, TABOR’s programming overrides will of voters

By Carol Hedges
Guest Commentary

HAL 9000, the mellow-voiced but malevolent-minded computer from "2001: A Space Odyssey." (Thinkstock)

HAL 9000, the mellow-voiced but malevolent-minded computer from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” (Thinkstock)

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR as most Coloradans know it, is frequently acclaimed as carrying out the will of voters. But as recent events show, it’s doing the opposite.

Would Colorado voters really have approved TABOR in 1992 if they had known it could prevent their communities from accepting state emergency funds after natural disasters like wildfires and floods? Would they have voted for TABOR if they’d known that it could unexpectedly cut taxes on marijuana that voters had overwhelmingly approved in two elections?

Rather than being a tool used to express the people’s will, TABOR works more like a computer with a mind of its own that carries out its preprogrammed mission automatically, oblivious to voters and to their elected officials.

We now have a new political structure – the HAL 9000 form of governance, modeled after the mellow-voiced but malevolent-minded computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Many Coloradans know TABOR mandates tax elections. But it does so much more. Continue reading

Mar 31

Lawsuit against TABOR

from the April edition of the Naysayer newsletter from historian, author, and social critic Phil Goodstein.
Note a different location, La Casa de Manuel at 3158 Larimer, for the Naysayers’ meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 4.

The Democrats’ thorough contempt of voters and popular democ­racy is endless. It has surfaced again in the lawsuit filed by party lawmakers against the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). The citizenry adopted this amendment to the state constitution in 1992, partially in reaction to the extravagant handouts and giveaways of the government to private businesses and the scam of Denver International Airport.
Ever since its passage, the governing class has raged against it. This refers to the political elite. Far from seeing themselves as representa­tives of the public, designed to get the government to work for everyday people, they are essentially representatives of the government who try to impose the dictates of the bureaucracy on the populace. They particularly call for ever greater pay for public officials, seeing them­selves as the enlightened guardians of civilization while they surround public buildings with goons to defend the government from the popu­lace. Such ideologues rail against TABOR precisely beside it is designed to check the usual plunder of officeholders with their give­aways to politically well-connected donors.
While endlessly attacking TABOR, the governing class has never tried to repeal it through an open and honest referendum. Rather, as is its wont, it has employed stealth. Its latest scheme is a federal lawsuit, claiming the act is unconstitutional because it ties the hands of lawmak­ers in deciding how much they can tax the populace. In other words, rather than having the courts respect the decision of the electorate, the governing class wants sweeping judicial intervention whereby ap­pointed jurists, with no public accountability, will allow it to have its way despite the mandate of the citizenry. Precisely such policies and arrogance are what fuel the massive alienation of the citizenry from the government. For so illustrating their elitism and contempt for every­body except their cherished government, those pushing the TABOR suit are an Associate Naysayer of the Month.

http://denverdirect.blogspot.com/2014/03/lawsuit-against-tabor.html

Mar 22

A fee or a tax? Guarding TABOR against lawsuits

By Brian Vande Krol 

Guest Commentary

TABOR author Douglas Bruce collects political signs to be placed in high traffic areas of Colorado Springs rebuffing efforts against Referendum C, amending

TABOR author Douglas Bruce collects political signs to be placed in high traffic areas of Colorado Springs rebuffing efforts against Referendum C, amending TABOR, in November 2005. (Chuck Bigger, Special to The Denver Post)

 

 

To fee, or not to fee. That is the question.

Whether ’tis Nobler in the wallet to suffer

The Fees and Enterprises of outrageous Governance,

Or to file suits against CBE,

And by opposing end them?

A Colorado organization has filed an appeal to overturn a Denver District Court finding about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). We believe the trial court erred in finding that Colorado’s Bridge Enterprise (CBE) conforms to TABOR.

In 2010, the legislature created the CBE to repair and maintain bridges. The CBE was called an “enterprise” so it could issue debt without a vote of the people, as is otherwise required by TABOR. The CBE already has issued $300 million in debt and plans more (up to $1 billion).

An enterprise is a government-owned, self-supporting business, which is exempt from TABOR restrictions. The legislature also authorized the CBE to impose a new charge on vehicle registrations. Known as the bridge safety surcharge, it was designated for repair and maintenance of state-owned bridges. But the CBE had a problem. Because the charge is not a fee for service, it functioned like a tax, which requires a vote of the people.

Disinclined to allow Colorado’s constitution to stand in the way, the CBE called it a fee and hoped the label alone would be enough to avoid a tax election.

In 2012, the TABOR Foundation sued to reverse the tax and stop the issuance of more debt, arguing that the fee is actually a tax, and that the CBE is not a qualified enterprise and cannot issue debt without a vote of the citizens of Colorado. Continue reading

Mar 18

Gerou: TABOR having ‘insidious’ effect on Colorado

More “tax and spend” talk from envious Democrats about TABOR

by 

DENVER — For years Democrats have been ranting and raving about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which requires voters to approve all tax hikes and keeps state spending from rising beyond a certain level.

On Tuesday, during a Joint Budget Committee briefing on the state’s quarterly revenue forecast, a Republican lawmaker joined them.

“I have to tell you, quite honestly, the more I learn about TABOR, particularly what it did with the floods in our counties, the less and less I like TABOR, and the more insidious I think it has been to state government,” said Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, who sits on the Joint Budget Committee and is in her final year at the legislature.

Last year, local communities found that TABOR limits on spending and revenues prevented them from freeing up funds to help citizens recover from September’s catastrophic floods.

“I’ll have an effigy burned in my front yard when I get home, but it’s the honest to goodness truth,” Gerou said. “It’s not been good.” Continue reading

Mar 17

The Court of Appeals’ Anti-TABOR Decision

The Court of Appeals’ Anti-TABOR Decision

March 17, 2014 by Rob Natelson

041410 Rob Natelson-2The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuitrecently refused to dismiss the suit by various public sector interests to invalidate Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). The plaintiffs claim that TABOR violates Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. That provision is called the Guarantee Clause because it guarantees that the states will have republican forms of government.

However, the Court of Appeals addressed only standing and justiciability issues, and allowed further hearings on the Guarantee Clause issue.

The Guarantee Clause was designed to prevent states from becoming monarchies, dictatorships, or anarchies. It is totally inapplicable to TABOR,which simply requires that certain conditions—such as popular votes or legislative supermajorities—be met before the legislature can make designated increases in taxes, spending and debt. Although it is common in Colorado to claim TABOR is “unique,”  in fact, it is only one of the stronger fiscal-restraint provisions that appear in the constitutions of 49 states. (The exception is Vermont.)

Restraints of this kind are called “TELs”—tax and expenditure limitations. Even the U.S. Constitution imposes such restraints on Congress. For example, it requires direct taxes, other than the income tax, to be apportioned among states by population, and it imposes a flat ban against taxes on exports. Continue reading

Mar 15

Their Power

 

Paul Jacobs pictureTheir Power

Boo hoo.

Thirty-three hifalutin members of Colorado’s political elite — state legislators, former legislators, board of education officials, city and county politicians, and assorted insiders — are whining as plaintiffs in what’s called a federal case.

Why? They lost an election … in 1992! Now, as the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals put it, “Plaintiffs claim that they have been deprived of their power over taxation and revenue.”

Over 22 years ago, Coloradans petitioned the Taxpayer Bill of Rights onto the ballot and voters passed it. Known as TABOR, the constitutional amendment limits the growth of government spending, unless voters approve higher spending levels. It also requires voter approval for tax increases, except in an emergency. The politicians objected at the time, but have since lacked both the courage and the democratic sensibility to take the issue back to the people.All this by routine.

Instead, they’re suing to overturn the result. Continue reading

Mar 15

Colorado residents may get a refund for pot tax

Why this pot business deodorizes its cash 

Why this pot business deodorizes its cash
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Colorado residents could see some green in their pockets thanks to the new recreational marijuana taxes.

Budget advisers to the state legislature crunched the numbers and revealed the state could be forced to refund as much as $100 million to taxpayers.

The state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, known as TABOR, sets limits on taxes and government spending. If the government collects more than expected, it generally owes taxpayers a refund.

But Colorado taxpayers shouldn’t expect a refund check in the mail. The state has several other procedures to handle a refund.

The state could provide taxpayers a credit on the next year’s tax bill, for example, or reduce the sales tax. Continue reading

Mar 14

The Tenth Circuit’s Punt in Kerr v. Hickenlooper Opens the Door for a Torrent of Litigation

In 1992 the people of Colorado voted to amend their Constitution with adoption of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). This was a historic initiative that put the power in the hands of the people to decide for themselves whether to approve new taxes or tax-hikes. While many states have constitutional protections to prevent new or increased taxes—such as California’s requirement of a supermajority vote in the legislature—Colorado’s TABOR was unique in that it made the citizens of the state the final word on new taxes or increased taxes. TABOR therein served as a model that has been implemented through constitutional amendments in other states, and which NFIB has supported as a means of protecting small business owners from new and ingenious taxing schemes. But TABOR is under attack—and this may have profound implications, not only in Colorado but throughout the country.

TABOR’s Legal Challenges

TABOR was upheld as constitutional in the Colorado Supreme Court last year in the face of a lawsuit advanced by educators and the parents of school-aged children who complained that TABOR makes it harder for schools to get necessary funding. NFIB Small Business Legal Center filed in that case to defend the law, and we were pleased to see the Court ultimately affirm the constitutionality of TABOR. But TABOR faces yet another challenge—this time in federal court. Continue reading

Mar 13

Colorado legislators grapple with pot-tax refund issue

Colorado lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee expressed frustration Wednesday that even though the state’s voters approved taxes on retail marijuana sales as required under the Taxpayer’s Bill of rights, some of that revenue might have to be refunded under TABOR if more taxes are collected than officials estimated.

JBC staff delivered a 100-page report to legislators outlining most of the scenarios that could occur of if the state collects more than the official $67 million estimate for the first full fiscal year of recreational pot sales, from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.

That estimate was given to voters in the official voters pamphlet — known as the Blue Book — last fall, which explained Proposition AA, the new taxes established for retail marijuana sales. That booklet estimated likely revenue from new pot taxes at $67 million in the first full year. (The ballot language itself pegged predicted tax revenue at $70 million.)

Most current estimates, however, show the state will likely collect far more than $67 million.

The report outlines three courses of action:

- Wait to see how much tax is collected, then ask voters to let the state keep any excesses;

- Send a refund of any taxes collected above the estimate; or,

- Attempt to reduce the 15 percent excise tax on wholesale sales and 10 percent special sales tax in order to keep the amounts collected under $67 million.

“This is a bizarre result that we’d have to refund all that tax money just because what we asked for [was an estimate] in a year when this is going to be a growing industry,” said JBC Vice Chairman Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, at a meeting of the budget panel Wednesday.

“It’s been the will of the people who passed TABOR,” said JBC Chairwoman Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver. Continue reading