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.)

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

Mar 11

House Bill 1187: Why should state government get to spend more just because people work more?

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. As the table below shows, it 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.

refcNow 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 05

Reflecting on 25 years of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (4 letters)

Reflecting on 25 years of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (4 letters)

By DP OPINION | openforum@denverpost.com

March 4, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Jeff Neumann, The Denver Post; photos provided by Thinkstock by Getty Images

Re: “Has TABOR been a good deal?” Feb. 26 Perspective section.

Excellent coverage on both sides of this controversial issue with no surprise in their respective conclusions. Proponents of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights simply want the taxpayers to have a voice before taxes are increased beyond TABOR limits. The opponents want to return to the pre-TABOR days with little outside control over government growth and spending. TABOR works as intended. The vast majority of Colorado taxing entities that approached their voters with sound and justifiable projects were met with voter approval, including the statewide Referendum C issue.

Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s statement that Democrats are unified in their hatred of TABOR is not true. As The Post reported, “Since 1993, statewide voters have approved only five tax increases out of 17 ballot questions.” Rest assured, countless Democrats (myself included) were among those voters opposing any override or change in TABOR. Moreover, it is two Republican legislators who are currently sponsoring House Bill  1187 to decrease taxpayers’ refunds in future years.

Carl Miller, Leadville

The writer is a former Colorado legislator.

Re: “Break antiquated Colorado tax policy free of TABOR,” Feb. 24 Tim Hoover column.   Continue reading

Mar 03

Case given new life that could throw state’s elections system in flux

Case given new life that could throw state’s elections system in flux

 

The Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday sent a case back to a lower court that could leave future funding for state and local elections in jeopardy.

The case, filed by the National Federation of Independent Business, claims that businesses carry an unfair burden of the cost of funding state and county elections. The business group hopes to reclaim the revenue, which would potentially throw elections into flux.

The appellate decision is not immediate cause for concern for state officials, as the court is only requiring the lower court to gather more information before making a decision.

“We reverse the summary judgment and remand to the district court with directions to hold further proceedings to determine whether the Business and Licensing charges have been adjusted or increased since the passage of TABOR in 1992, so as to require voter approval for the adjustments,” the Court of Appeals wrote in its decision.

“Depending on the court’s determination, it may need to reach the issue as to whether the Business and Licensing charges constitute a tax or a fee.”

That last statement by the court represents the heart of the case and what could cast uncertainty over elections in Colorado. More broadly, it could throw a curveball to all state departments that are funded by fees.

The question is whether business filings collected by the department qualify as a “fee” or a “tax.”

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