May 02

What you need to know about the bill Colorado lawmakers are “screaming” about behind closed doors

What you need to know about the bill Colorado lawmakers are “screaming” about behind closed doors

The latest proposal includes a larger co-pay for Medicaid patients, $1.8 billion for state road repairs

DENVER, CO - Jan. 06: Colorado ...
Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Colorado State Capitol building

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

The final stretch of the Colorado legislative session is becoming a must-watch political theater — with huge stakes.

Republican and Democratic leaders are negotiating behind closed doors on a far-reaching spending overhaul designed to erase a half-billion-dollar financial hit to hospitals

Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican, unveiled early Monday what he believed was an agreement on the legislationonly to receive a note moments later from Democrats calling off the deal.

To read the rest of this story, please click (HERE):

May 01

Hospital provider fee solution could come with business tax cut

Colorado Senate Republican leaders said Monday they are close to agreeing to a deal that would save more than half-a-billion dollars in proposed funding cuts for statewide hospitals.

The deal would also offer up a $37 million business personal-property tax cut and clear space in future budgets for transportation and education funding hikes.

The deal on Senate Bill 267 was so close, in fact, that co-sponsoring Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, had passed out a bullet-point sheet describing the details of the deal and had begun to inform a media briefing about the plan Monday morning when he received a note from co-sponsoring Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman telling him that the Denver Democrat was pulling back from what he’d described as a “handshake agreement.”

Surprised, Sonnenberg said he would sit down again with Guzman and with the bipartisan House sponsors of SB 67 and hoped to come up with a deal in the next week.

The biggest sticking point between Republicans and Democrats remains Republicans’ insistence on including efforts to slow the growth of Medicaid costs that include an increase on co-pays by Medicaid recipients.

The issue first surfaced when House Republicans tried to increase co-pays during the budget debate and put the savings for the state to transportation funding — an effort blocked by Democrats who insisted the budget would not be balanced on the backs of the poorest and sickest state residents.

The bill, put forth as a way to forgo a proposed $528 million in funding cuts via the hospital-provider fee, has always been a complex piece of legislation that also seeks to increase funding for rural roads and schools and to cut state funding across the board in order to help for that re-prioritizing.

But it took on an even greater diversity of topics over the past week, when Sonnenberg added a long-sought business personal property tax cut to offset what he called his concessions on lowering the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights cap in order to offset the money being taken out for the hospital provider fee. Continue reading

Mar 28

Douglas Bruce’s response to Rural Republicans tell lawmakers it’s time for action on Hospital Provider Fee

Let’s apply ten conservative political principles to this hospital provider fee situation.

 
  • 1. Limiting growth of state government requires setting state spending priorities.
  • 2. Allowing any business to fail that has insufficient market demand is called the free market. Government intervention violates the meaning of a free market.
  • 3. What does the most good for the most people–propping up failing businesses or providing broad benefits of limited government services equally to everyone?
  • 4. Who was forced to live in remote rural areas with fewer services? (No one.)

Continue reading

Mar 27

Rural Republicans tell lawmakers it’s time for action on Hospital Provider Fee

The big issue: would it be an end run around TABOR or not? Does it lower the base or not?

Dire funding news for the state’s hospitals has left Republicans in rural Colorado pleading with the legislature to restructure the Hospital Provider Fee, despite ideological beliefs.

It is a thorny issue that pits conservatives in the legislature against fellow Republicans in rural parts of the state.

Hospitals face a $264 million reduction in the upcoming budget that begins in July. That number is up from an initial budget request in November, which proposed a $195-million reduction. Rural hospitals are expected to receive the worst of it, with expectations for some hospitals to close.

Budget writers have proposed a $28.3 billion annual spending plan that lawmakers will begin to debate this week. In an effort to pass a balanced budget, the Joint Budget Committee proposed reducing collections of the Hospital Provider Fee.

 

Continue reading

Mar 21

Changes to TABOR will hurt state taxpayers

Changes to TABOR will hurt state taxpayers

By Linda GormanGuest Columnist

A Republican-sponsored bill in the Colorado legislature would likely let state government keep more of your tax money whether it needs it or not.

In 2005, Referendum C suspended Colorado’s constitutional limit on the amount of tax revenues that the state could keep. Called the “TABOR timeout,” the Referendum allowed the state to reset the limit on state revenue collection at the highest amount of annual revenue received between June FY 2005-6 and FY 2009-10. Referendum C was a permanent tax increase, which has increased Colorado state spending by an estimated $2.6 billion over the last decade. At present, only 38 percent of state spending remains subject to TABOR.

Now the tax and spend coalition wants more.

Some state officials are understandably delighted by any measure that relieves them of the drudgery of running the state on a tight budget. It is much less taxing to be a state legislator when revenues are rising than when they are falling. When spending must be cut, difficult choices are required. No one is happy.

 

Continue reading

Mar 20

Shot at Bruce?

Shot at Bruce?

Peter Strescino’s TABOR article in The Chieftain of March 1 was balanced and informative.

But what is the purpose of the paragraph saying that ?“TABOR was passed in 1992 on its third try by Colorado tax rebel Doug Bruce” who has owned “run-down Pueblo properties in the past”?

Is it to show that in 1990 and 1991, legislators told voters, “Hey trust us; you voters don’t need TABOR to protect yourselves from tax increases,” and that voters believed twice — but not three times?

 Is it to show that Bruce passed TABOR by himself, as the writing implies or to show that thousands of voters did indeed rebel against … legislators and vote for themselves some participation when their taxes are being raised?

Is it to show that Bruce is really a Pueblo guy at heart because he, too, has owned run-down property in Pueblo, a city with a website dedicated to run-down property, a city with a newspaper that rightly criticizes run-down property, but a city with a municipal government that can’t seem to protect its citizens from the scourge of run-down property, and that such a state of affairs could lead taxpayers to rebel and to deny tax increases?

Is it to show that if you get lucky, the guy owning run-down property on your street might save his fellow citizens $3 billion?

Which brings us to the editorial in the same issue of The Chieftain. The editorial complains that the city government wants more money, but they don’t want to ask for it, as the law requires; they want to simply take it by calling a tax a fee.

I hope The Chieftain appreciates the irony. It is this disassembling by elected officials that is causing this discussion to occur and voters to rebel, but without the voter rebellion and approval of the TABOR law, your editorial would be a blank page — no discussion of taxes or of fees.

 Now comes the good part: Thank you to The Chieftain for covering these issues in a professional manner. Without newspapers going to the uncountable government meetings, how would the citizens be able to learn of the actions of the government? We can’t all go personally to these meetings, and heaven forbid the day that we might be at the mercy of some blotter in his basement to learn about the government.

Mark Clinard

Florence

http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/letters/shot-at-bruce/article_6703b242-0c38-11e7-bbe1-53a11e67d1e6.html

Mar 11

TABOR bill sponsor responds to constituents and bows out; says he will vote against changes

DENVER – One of three Republican sponsors on a bill that would change the way revenue is capped under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) has had a change of heart.

Despite the fact supporting TABOR is one of the many issues that normally binds conservatives, Representatives Phil Covarrubias, (R-Adams/Arapahoe), Dan Thurlow (R-Mesa) and Lois Landgraf, (R-El Paso) all originally advocated for a change to the 25-year-old constitutional amendment that restricts tax increases without a vote of the people and caps state revenue.

Covarrubias, however, said he took enough backlash for his role in it that he announced via social media that he was pulling his name from the sponsorship of HB17-1187.

“In case you have not heard: per the request of my constituents, I have decided to take my name off HB 1187 and will be voting against it,” Covarrubias said on his Twitter feed.

The Tweet came as welcome news to many fellow Republicans who immediately retweeted the announcement with words of gratitude.

Senate Bill 1187 would ask voters in November to change the revenue cap from one that is based on percentage increase in state population plus the rate of inflation to one that is based on Colorado personal income growth over a rolling calendar of the previous six years.

The bill passed third and final reading Friday and now moves to the Senate, where Republicans hold a one-vote majority. It is expected to be heavily debated again.

Opponents say the current formula takes into consideration that a larger population requires more government services while proponents argue the current formula is outdated. Continue reading

Mar 11

Colorado’s Constitutional conundrum: Gallagher vs. TABOR amendments, and what it means for us

FYI. Posted as it mentions TABOR and you can see what the other side is saying….

EAGLE COUNTY — Call it the Colorado Conundrum.

Colorado homeowners in the next couple of years will see a property tax break, while our state government is forced to make budget cuts. That’s because we stand at the crossroads of a couple of constitutional amendments — Gallagher and the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

Tim Hoover is the communications director for the Colorado Fiscal Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan fiscal policy and analysis organization. They don’t have a dog in this fight, but if they did they’d root against TABOR.

“This is a profoundly serious problem. TABOR is not a watchdog. It’s a rabid dog,” Hoover said. “TABOR is literally threatening public safety.”

When the Gallagher Amendment intersects with TABOR, that causes problems, Hoover explained.

IT’S NOT COMPLICATED

That conflict is not as complicated as you might think, and it goes like this: Continue reading