Mar 03

TABOR reform measure passes first test with bipartisan support

photo - An effort to reform the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR, passed its first test on Monday with Republican support. File photo.An effort to reform the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, passed its first test on Monday with Republican support. File photo.An effort to reform the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, passed its first test on Monday with Republican support, though the legislation faces an uphill battle.

Some TABOR observers call it progress that two Republicans are sponsoring the effort to change how the state calculates its spending cap.

The bill received bipartisan support from the House Finance Committee. It heads to appropriations for consideration.

Despite the bipartisan support, Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction and Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa, sponsors of House Bill 1187, are still mavericks on the subject though an evolution appears to be underway.

“Let’s merely take a look at TABOR one more time and see how it’s working over the last 25 years, and if it’s working we leave it alone, and if it’s not working we make an adjustment,” Thurlow said during a well-attended hearing at the Capitol.

Continue reading

Mar 03

Panel Oks bill to ask voters about TABOR change

DENVER (AP) — The Latest on a bill to loosen a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights limit on Colorado state revenues (all times local):

5:20 p.m. p.m.

 A proposal by two Republican lawmakers to potentially increase how much revenue the state can keep without issuing tax refunds has passed a Colorado House committee.

The Democrat-led House Finance Committee voted 10-3 Monday to refer the bill by Republican Rep. Dan Thurlow and GOP Sen. Larry Crowder to the House Appropriations Committee.

Their bill would ask voters in November to change the way annual state revenue limits are calculated under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

It could allow the state to keep hundreds of millions of dollars for roads, education and other priorities.

Opponents argued that any proposed change to TABOR, a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1992, should be in the form of a constitutional amendment — not a statutory change called for by the bill.

Constitutional changes carry tougher ballot qualification and voter passage benchmarks.

___

11:35 a.m.

Two Colorado Republicans want to loosen a constitutional restriction on how much revenue the state can receive without having to issue tax refunds.

Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Larry Crowder say it’s time to have a conversation about those limits 25 years after voters approved them under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Republicans long have opposed TABOR tampering, arguing excess revenues belong to taxpayers.

But Thurlow and Crowder say individual refunds would be pocket change when the state faces a $500 million budget deficit.

Their bill would ask voters in November to change the way TABOR’s annual revenue limits are calculated. It would potentially allow the state to keep hundreds of millions of dollars for roads, education and other priorities.

A House committee hears testimony on the bill Monday.

http://www.thechronicle-news.com/news/ap_news/the-latest-panel-oks-bill-to-ask-voters-about-tabor/article_9bc10e21-8358-5db0-b641-368887a6a572.html

Mar 03

Crowder, Thurlow team up to fix TABOR ‘constraint on overdrive’

State Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, and state Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, have introduced a bill to fine tune TABOR.

Two Colorado Republican lawmakers are delivering on their promise from earlier this year to fine-tune TABOR, a 25-year-old constitutional restriction on how much the state can receive — and spend — without triggering tax refunds.

Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Larry Crowder have introduced House Bill 17-1187 that seeks to change the way annual revenue limits set by the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights are calculated.

It’s a first step that could allow the state to keep millions of dollars for roads, education and other priorities, starting with an extra $175 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, according to legislative analysts.

Thurlow, of Grand Junction, and Crowder, of Alamosa, have asked: What’s the use of individual taxpayer refunds amounting to pocket change when, this year alone, lawmakers must close a $500 million gap to balance the budget that begins July 1?

“I believe our party is the party of solutions and this bill is an example of that,” Thurlow said Monday. Continue reading

Mar 03

Colorado small business lawsuit surrounding TABOR heads back to district court

The legal battle between an organization representing Colorado small businesses and the Secretary of State isn’t over, despite a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling this week.

“It’s a jump ball,” said Tony Gagliardi, the Colorado director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, who sued the state of behalf of its members.

The Colorado Court of Appeals this week said the business licensing charges collected by the Secretary of State and used to pay for all the activities run by the office are constitutional under that Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

But the court ordered the case back to district court and instructed the Secretary of State to produce a list of all the business fee increases since 1992, when TABOR was enacted. Continue reading

Mar 03

What is House Bill 1187?

What is House Bill 1187?

HB1187 would allow the government budgets at all levels to grow much larger each year by changing the current growth formula of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  The current automatic increase uses the previous year’s budget and adds the growth in population plus inflation.[1]  Under the existing formula, Colorado’s State budget has grown an average of 4.7 percent a year for the past 25 years that TABOR has been in effect.

The new formula would replace the growth rate with the growth in personal income, averaged over five years.  With that substitution, the TABOR limit would soar.

The measure is sponsored by Rep. Dan Thurlow (R-Grand Junction) and Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa County).

 

A fatal flaw in the proposal.

This bill is a very sneaky effort to avoid the constitutional rules altogether.  The rules say that the state constitution cannot be changed by passing a law.  This proposed measure says it can change a foundational definition in the constitution with a new law.  It does not ask simply for the state to keep the excess of taxes collected for some number of years.  It is a permanent change in how each TABOR limit is set.  That’s a fundamental change to the constitution. Continue reading

Feb 26

After 25 years, TABOR still works for you

Douglas Bruce, author of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, is pictured in 2005 working on the campaign against Referendum C .

By Penn R. Pfiffner and Douglas Bruce | Guest Commentary

PUBLISHED: February 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights works for you and its 25th anniversary this year is worth celebrating. Once again in 2017 you need to protect TABOR from the political elite attacking it.

TABOR belongs to you. It is how you set a broad control on government that must answer to you and your fellow citizens. It has succeeded in keeping a better balance between costly government programs and healthy family budgets.

Everyone has to live within a budget. That’s just life. Staying in budget brings stability to your family and helps you choose the most important ways to spend your money. The value of living within a budget applies not just to individuals and families, but also to government. That’s just smart — and fair.

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

Feb 24

Listen To The Alaska Legislature Hearing Testimony On TABOR

Penn Pfiffner, who is probably the foremost authority on TABOR in the state, a former Colorado legislator, and member of the TABOR Committee Board of Directors, will testify about this

Dear Mr. Pfiffner,

Thank you for speaking with me about logistics. Here are some of the things to keep in mind for remote testimony:

Time Allotted

We are anticipating 10-15 minutes for your testimony followed by an opportunity for committee members to ask questions. I anticipate that the Q&A segment will last anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

Committee Edict

At the beginning of the hearing Senator Dunleavy will introduce you. He will then ask you to state your name for the record and begin your testimony. Upon completing your prepared testimony we will allow time for questions. When a senator asks you a question you are able to respond to that individual “through the chair.” For example: Continue reading

Feb 19

25 years of TABOR, share your thoughts

Karl Gehring, Denver Post file

The late state Sen. Ken Gordon carries a sign at the Colorado Capitol showing support for Referendums C and D in September 2005. That was the last time voters were asked to allow the state to escape some of the spending limits under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Voters passed one proposal and killed the other.

By DP OPINION | openforum@denverpost.com

February 18, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Next Sunday’s Denver Post Perspective section will be dedicated to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which Colorado voters passed 25 years ago. Please send us your thoughts on TABOR: Is it working or not? Should it be amended? Should it be repealed? E-mail us at openforum@denverpost.com with the subject line “TABOR.” Keep your comments to no more than 150 words. We will publish a selection of your responses in Sunday Feb. 26.

Writers will include Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, TABOR author Douglas Bruce, and more.
Additionally on Tuesday, Feb. 28 The Denver Post, Denver Press Club and the Colorado Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America will host a Social Perspectives event at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl. Readers can come and ask questions of the writers and experts who tackle TABOR in Sunday’s Perspective section. The event — free and open to the public — is intended to promote friendly nonpartisan conversations about one of the most controversial topics in our state.

 

25 years of TABOR, share your thoughts

Jan 11

All the taxes you cannot see

Colorado Capitol Dome

Seeing is believing. So, it’s no wonder many in government prefer to work in the dark.

It’s not just that they don’t want us to know what they’re fully doing. They don’t want us to know what we’re fully paying. The reason for this emotional manipulation is clear. If the cost of government is hidden into the cost of our daily lives, we feel like we’re not paying as much as we really are.

As the state legislative session gears up our governor will try to get you to feel you’re not paying a massive tax called the Hospital Provider Fee. He, in concert with everyone who wants to increase taxes in every conceivable way except actually asking voters first, will pressure the legislature, via the new senate president, to embrace this dark money ploy.

This is nothing new. Colorado is chalk full of schemes to turn your tax money dark.

One of the biggest emotional manipulations is employee withholdings. Why in the world is it our employer’s job to collect our taxes? Imagine how you’d feel about your money going to government if you had to write out a check every month along with your other bills. And you think you gripe about your cable bill?

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

 

Jan 01

Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Initiative 1 (1992)

The Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), also known as Initiative 1, was on the November 3, 1992 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The famed measure, thought up by Douglas Bruce, requires statewide voter approval of tax increases that exceed an index created by combining inflation and population increases.

 

 

 

 

 

Text of measure

See also: Colorado State Constitution, Article X

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution to require voter approval for certain state and local government tax revenue increases and debt; to restrict property, income, and other taxes; to limit the rate of increase in state and local government spending; to allow additional initiative and referendum elections; and to provide for the mailing of information to registered voters?

Aftermath

Kerr v. Hickenlooper

See also: Kerr v. Hickenlooper

A lawsuit regarding Initiative 1 will likely have far reaching effects for other TABOR laws around the country and direct democracy, in general. A lawsuit was filed with U.S. District Court in Denver, with plaintiffs arguing that the amendment is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed during the week of May 27, 2011, by 34 bipartisan plaintiffs, according to reports.

According to Doug Bruce, author of the citizen initiative, if the lawsuit is successful in its efforts, it could allow lawmakers unlimited power, and could be extremely detrimental to citizen initiative efforts in the state of Colorado. Bruce stated: “This isn’t only attacking Colorado. The consequences of a ruling in their favor would invalidate the Constitution in all 50 states, and would also mean no limits on the federal government. We would have anarchy.”

However, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, David Skaggs, stated that the measure limits state legislators and conflicts with both the state and United States constitutions. Skaggs also argues that other initiatives have been overturned, but that it did not negatively affect the process. Skaggs commented: “Courts won’t reach beyond the narrow question presented. Yes, we got to this issue by initiative”, but the lawsuit targets TABOR and not citizens’ initiatives.

The case’s impact expanded significantly due to the consideration of a Guarantee Clause argument. In 2012, Colorado District Court Judge William J. Martínez ruled in favor of allowing the case to proceed. However, Martínez’s ruling noted the history of seeing the Guarantee Clause as not justiciable or capable of judicial resolution, and said, “the Court determines that it cannot summarily conclude that Plaintiffs’ Guarantee Clause claim is per se non-justiciable”

The defense appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. In March 2014, the court ruled that the case was justiciable. The court further denied a petition for rehearing en banc in July 2014. Some consider the case likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Taxpayer_Bill_of_Rights,_Initiative_1_(1992)