Dec 19

Littleton school superintendent kicks off state-wide campaign to fight TABOR

Although the election may have ended a month ago, at least one Colorado school district superintendent hasn’t stopped campaigning.

Littleton Public Schools (LPS) Superintendent Brian Ewert sent out a newsletter Wednesday that drew ire from several residents in the district.

The tri-fold, full-color, glossy mailer from the school district started off with a letter from Ewert that seemed innocent at first.

“Little Public Schools is a special place where students excel, families thrive, and the community has a long tradition of supporting its schools,” the letter read.

However, it immediately turns to talk of inadequate statewide tax structure and a need for more money. But that’s not what crossed the line for residents like Lori Horn, who received the mailer despite not having students in the district.

“This is a new superintendent,” Horn said. “It was a different kind of letter for families to receive. I was surprised to get it since I don’t currently have kids in public schools here. They paid some money for it. It looked like a fluff piece about nice things going on in the schools, but one-third of it was his letter.” Continue reading

Dec 19

Littleton flyer cost school district near $10,000

A flyer recently mailed to Littleton Public Schools (LPS) residents asking them to contact their state legislators about an education funding plan cost the district nearly $10,000.

LPS Superintendent Brian Ewert sent out a newsletter earlier this month asking residents to support a possible bill that would remove the hospital provider fee from the general fund and convert it to an enterprise fund – thereby exempting the fee from counting toward the state’s constitutional revenue limit under the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) and potentially opening the door to increased education funding.

The hospital provider fee is a fee charged to hospitals for each bed used by a patient daily. The revenue goes to fund the state’s expansion of Medicaid. By removing it from the general fund, it is predicted it would free up more than $600 million under the TABOR’s revenue cap. That would prevent automatic refunds to Colorado residents and possibly allow for more education funding.

Joint Budget Committee Chairman Kent Lambert-R has called the controversial maneuver a shell game in its effort to skirt TABOR laws.

The tri-fold, full-color, glossy mailer from the school district is Ewert’s first informational flyer since taking over as superintendent this year Continue reading

Dec 19

Prominent Denver business groups urge legislators to tweak hospital provider fee, fund roads

Colorado business groups are ramping up the debate over the state’s hospital provider fee, warning that if lawmakers don’t change how the state accounts for the money the fee generates, they’ll “almost certainly force” a tax increase to address Colorado’s crumbling roads instead.

The letter was sent to leaders of both chambers of the Legislature on Wednesday, calling on lawmakers to set revenue from the hospital fee aside in a so-called “enterprise fund” that wouldn’t be subject to limitations imposed by the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.

The letter is mainly directed at Senate Republicans, whose opposition killed a bill on the provider fee in the last session of the Legislature after it had already cleared the Democratic-majority House..

The business groups constitute a crucial support sector for GOP-sponsored legislation. The letter to leadership on the hospital fee is meant to give cover to Republican leaders who are feeling pressure from more conservative elements of the party that want to block the enterprise fund idea — or who want to repeal the fee altogether.

“Republicans are certainly sensitive to the needs of the business community. The Senate Republicans have a track record of fighting for businesses,” said Tony Milo, executive director of the Colorado Contractors Association, one of the organizations backing the request. “We want to point out this is something important to businesses.” Continue reading

Dec 08

Hospital provider fee is a billion dollar political fight in Colorado

Hickenlooper calls for pulling the money from TABOR limits

 

A $1.2 billion system that provides health care to thousands of Colorado residents is becoming a political and fiscal headache for Gov. John Hickenlooper and lawmakers — one likely to dominate the 2016 legislative session.

The hospital provider fee program is expected to collect more than $750 million in fees in the next budget year and help propel state revenues over the TABOR limits, forcing the state to issue taxpayer refunds and reduce spending in key areas.

The dichotomy is driving the Democratic governor’s push to overhaul the program, despite being rebuffed by lawmakers earlier this year, and renewing questions about how the fee works.

More than usual, the greatest obstacle is politics. The debate represents a confluence of polarizing issues, from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to the expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Click here to read the rest of the story

Nov 29

Budget, elections reforms suggested to improve Colorado

Budget, elections reforms suggested to improve Colorado

Coalition looks at conflicts from TABOR

By Peter Marcus Herald staff writer

Article Last Updated: Saturday, November 28, 2015 6:02pm

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The Building a Better Colorado coalition is seeking to address the ease with which Colorado’s constitution is amended, decreased participation in elections systems and an “imbalance” between citizens’ expectations of government services and the ability to meet desires.

DENVER – A coalition aimed at examining reforms to budget and elections processes in Colorado identified restructuring a hospital fee and strengthening rules governing citizens initiatives as solutions to ease conflicts and challenges facing the state.

The Building a Better Colorado coalition – comprised largely of civic and business leaders – sought to address the ease with which Colorado’s constitution is amended, decreased participation in elections systems and an “imbalance” between citizens’ expectations of government services and the ability to meet desires.

The recommendations could be placed before voters to decide next year.

Critics have labeled the coalition another statewide tour to gather support to raise taxes by eliminating protections under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Continue reading

Nov 21

Letter: TABOR isn’t hurting Colo. economy ‘at all’

Letter: TABOR isn’t hurting Colo. economy ‘at all’

Quin Roberts 2:31 p.m. MST November 20, 2015

Quinn for TABOR

(Photo: Courtesy photo)

Dick Heyman on Nov. 12 wrote that “We need to repeal the TABOR amendment completely,” because voters should not be allowed to interfere with “efficient government.”

Colorado’s TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) requires that tax increases and spending growth greater than the increase in population, plus inflation, be authorized by a vote of the people. It places no absolute limits on tax and spending increases. It simply makes our government get our permission to exceed the limit.

Mr. Heyman calls this requirement “stupid.” He is a reactionary and believes that TABOR creates an excess of democracy. Continue reading

Nov 11

Under the Dome: Tough budget work about to begin

bob rankin

Rep. Bob Rankin

After a week of great fall weather, it was snowing hard at my house the last two mornings. Summer was way too short. Joyce and I go back to Denver this week and start activity that will be nonstop through next May. But we’re not complaining. It’s an honor to represent Northwest Colorado in the Legislature, and we look forward to what’s coming.

The six-person Joint Budget Committee (JBC), of which I’m a member, starts hearings Thursday. We’ll be grinding through the performance measures, organization and budgets of 22 state government departments. Our wonderful nonpartisan staff members spend all year analyzing every aspect of all the departments in detail and then, in their first presentation, shovels it to us in a few hours. They seem to have a sincere belief that we can absorb so much information and data. The committee asks a lot of questions, and the department comes back another day and answers our questions. We put together a balanced budget by March and present it to both houses of the Legislature.

The JBC starts with a budget recommendation from the governor that is synthesized from department inputs and revenue forecasts. This year looks to be problematic, and I expect a tumultuous process to get to our March budget. To start with, the forecasts (they will change twice before March) indicate a $160 million shortfall for the current fiscal year that ends in July. The recommendation is that we take this sum from our 6.5 percent reserve and replace the reserve next year. Continue reading

Oct 12

OPINION: VOTE “YES” ON 2D

Opinion: Vote “YES” on 2D

Posted By on Sun, Oct 11, 2015 at 9:52 AM

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Colorado Springs city government finds itself with approximately $2.1 million in excess revenue 2014. Colorado’s Tax Payers Bill of Rights (TABOR) dictates that the city must either return the money to taxpayers or ask, via a vote, to keep the money for city projects. The city has elected to put forth ballot language, measure 2D, to ask taxpayers to let them keep the money to fix local trails this November election.

Council has worked with the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department to identify eight trails in the city that are in dire need of repair or improvements — repairs and improvements that will be paid for if voters approve the measure. The trails noted on the ballot include Homestead trail, Palmer Mesa Trail, Pikes Peak Greenway, Rock Island Trail, Sand Creek Trail, Shooks Run Trail, Sinton Trail and Skyline Trail — the measure does not allow for any new trails.
Continue reading

Oct 12

The attacks on TABOR continue

October 11, 2015

By Amy K. Frantz , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Do Legislators have a Constitutional right to impose taxes on citizens and to deny citizens any veto power over those actions? A group of politicians in Colorado seems to think so, and are continuing their quest to overturn the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, from the Colorado State Constitution.

In Colorado, citizens are permitted to place measures on the ballot by initiative petition, and in 1992 the TABOR Constitutional Amendment was adopted by Colorado voters. TABOR requires majority voter approval to increase tax rates, to take on new debt, or to increase spending more than the rate of inflation plus state population growth.

In the original provisions of TABOR, any revenue collected in excess of the spending limit, plus an emergency relief fund of 3 percent of fiscal year spending, had to be returned to the taxpayers in the form of rebates. However, in 2005 Colorado voters approved a measure to forego the rebates for five years, following a scare campaign conducted by the state’s big spenders.

Continue reading

Oct 11

YES: It’s what voters wanted

Employee Nikki Desiderio explains different marijuana products to customers at the Helping Hand recreational marijuana store in Boulder. (Jeremy Papasso,Employee Nikki Desiderio explains different marijuana products to customers at the Helping Hand recreational marijuana store in Boulder. (Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera)

Opinion

YES: It’s what voters wanted

Proposition BB, the only statewide issue in Colorado’s elections this November, asks voters to “allow the state to retain and spend $66.1 million, which has already been collected, rather than refund it to taxpayers.”

Supporters of limited and cost-effective government understand the importance of reminding politicians and bureaucrats whose money they’re spending. Refunds of tax revenue are perhaps the single most-effective way of doing so. However, Proposition BB relates specifically to the refund of excise and sales taxes on marijuana, taxes approved by Colorado voters in 2013 through Proposition AA as required by the 2012 passage of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado.

If BB were to fail, the functional impact would be for the state not to have collected any of the voter-approved 15 percent state excise tax or 10 percent state sales tax on retail (non-medical) marijuana sales.

Two key points, as explained by the Legislative Council staff:

To continue reading this story, click this link: http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_28945795/yes-its-what-voters-wanted