Oct 07

Pueblo City Schools joins in lawsuit challenging TABOR

Pueblo City Schools joins in lawsuit challenging TABOR

Pueblo City Schools (D60) has added its name to a list of plaintiffs in a constitutional challenge to Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

During its regular September meeting, the board of education approved a resolution that will see the district become part of the Kerr et al v. Hickenlooper civil lawsuit, filed in 2011 in U.S. District Court in Colorado.

The plaintiffs — current and past state legislators, public officials, educators, administrators and private citizens — have sued to overturn TABOR.

“The ability of Pueblo School District No. 60 to provide adequate education services to its students depends in part on its ability to convince the Colorado General Assembly to adequately fund the Public School Finance Act,” the approved resolution declares.

Additionally, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights “prevents the state and its local school districts from fulfilling their constitutional obligations to adequately fund the public schools” and has impinged on the district’s ability to provide for the education of its children “due to requirements for elections to approve any increases in the property tax mill levies.” Continue reading

Sep 29

One Rural Colorado District Sees Closing Funding Gap As Voter Education Challenge

RE-1 Valley Superintendent Jan DeLay giving a presentation discussing the finances of the school district. By building more understanding of the situation, she believes she can build momentum for a $2 million ballot measure for funding.

Jenny Brundin/CPR News

How schools are funded in Colorado is so complex, there’s a joke that only five people in the state truly understand it.

Superintendent Jan DeLay in northeastern Colorado’s RE-1 Valley School District is on a mission to change that. She’s convinced that once average citizens understand why so many districts like hers are in a fiscal crisis, they’ll approve a local tax measure on the ballot to fund RE-1.

The money would be would be used to attract and keep teachers and to expand academic opportunities for students through technology, textbooks and other programs.

The last time the district passed a mill levy was in 2005, for $500,000 to update buildings, technology, textbooks and transportation. DeLay says that money is gone within the first couple of months in the new school year. Continue reading

Sep 24

State Senate race in Arvada could be tipping point for Colorado Legislature

ARVADA, Colo. — The presidential race is important. The U.S. Senate race is important. But because Washington is so gridlocked, there is a good chance not much will be done regardless of who wins.

TABOR reforms
Woods: Against changing TABOR (Good)
Zenzinger: Supports some changes, like hospital provider fee (Bad)

A different occurrence might unfold in Colorado if Democrats have their way in Senate District 19, a district made up mostly of Arvada.

Currently, Republicans hold a one-seat majority in the Colorado State Senate. Those Republicans often find themselves stopping legislation that the Democratic House and the Democratic governor want to pass.

On the front lines in the Republican fight to defend the Senate is Republican  incumbent Laura Woods.

“Industry and business want the Senate to remain in Republican hands,” Woods said as she knocked on doors Wednesday. Continue reading

Sep 10

TABOR Timeout effort set for new pool

The people involved with a grassroots effort in Pueblo West to build a new swimming facility hope they will have positive impact on this November’s ballot issue, helping local residents understand the issue and get it passed.

The Pueblo West Metropolitan District Board of Directors just approved the language for a November ballot issue in which the District will ask for a “TABOR timeout.”

In doing so, that money for the next 10 years would be used solely for the Pueblo West swimming pool.

The grassroots effort now has more than 100 people behind it, local folks who are rallying for a new swimming facility to be built in Pueblo West to replace the very aged one currently in use.

“That pool was built 40 years ago when our population in Pueblo West was 1,500 people.

“Now it’s 30,000 and it’s time to bring our facilities into this century,” said Grant Shay, a local resident who has helped get the efforts going in the community.

Continue reading

Aug 17

Letter: ‘The rest simply pay for it’

My wife and I have lived in Pueblo West for nearly seven years.

We bought property and built a new home here because of the rural feel, the privacy, the huge vistas and to escape the many downfalls of the city of Pueblo.

Not the least of which was the ceaseless badgering by city council and other government entities for more money for pet projects.

Ballot tax initiatives were repeated ad nauseum due to a refusal to take no for an answer. We grew weary of the arrogance associated with that mindset and having to repeatedly fend off the never ending assaults on our wallets.

Recently, we have witnessed an increase in efforts of this ilk here in Pueblo West. Continue reading

Aug 06

Hate Big Government? Crush New Smoking Taxes

Hate Big Government? Crush New Smoking Taxes.


Hate Big Government? Crush New Smoking Taxes.

 Aren’t you glad we live in a state where, due to TABOR, politicians have to ask us before soaking hardworking taxpayers? I like to call it “consensual taxation.”

In 2013, Coloradans overwhelmingly defeated Amendment 66, which would have been a $1 billion annual tax increase. The politicians wanted this tax increase, but the voters said no by a margin of 66-34. Thanks to TABOR, they had to ask us. We said politely declined.

This November, we will have the opportunity to vote on Amendment 69, which would create a single-payer health plan in Colorado at the cost of a new 10% payroll tax. It’s been widely panned, even by the Democrats, including US Senator Michael Bennet.


Continue reading

Jul 23

Blake: “Decline to sign” campaign is first of its kind

Colorado has never seen an advertising and public relations campaign like it: Trying to stop an initiative before it gets to the ballot.

votebuttonSMALLThe campaign urging citizens to “think before you ink” is being sponsored by advocacy groups financed by the oil and gas industry. It is aimed at a couple of pending proposals that would severely restrict drilling in Colorado.

Proposition 75 would grant local governments the power to regulate, even effectively ban, drilling for oil and gas. Prop 78 would require that new oil and gas wells be at least 2,500 feet from occupied structures — a restriction that the industry claims would ban new wells from 90 percent of the land in the state.

We’re not likely to find out whether the campaign has worked or not until petitions are turned in by the Aug. 8 deadline.

But the campaign is already being blamed in part for the failure of an unrelated anti-TABOR initiative which was withdrawn this week by its sponsors. It would have permitted the state government to keep revenues collected above the spending limits imposed by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights for the next 10 years. Instead of returning the money to taxpayers, the state would spend it on public education, transportation and mental health.

Backers of Prop 117 were “unable to raise the large amount of money necessary to gather enough signatures to qualify” for the ballot, Lisa Weil of Great Education Colorado told the Denver Business Journal.

Maria Garcia Berry, a political consultant who had been helping Weil and others promote 117, told me its death was “collateral damage” inflicted by the oil and gas industry’s campaign urging citizens to look more closely at the anti-drilling initiatives now circulating.

But that’s not all, she said. The oil and gas industry has effectively driven up the cost of collecting signatures by “conflicting out” just about every major signature gathering company in Colorado — Black Diamond Outreach, Kennedy Enterprises, Taylor Petition Management, to name a few. They’ve been reserved by the drilling industry or being used to circulate other initiatives it likes, such as Prop 96, which would make it more difficult to pass a state constitutional amendment.

Someone at Pac/West Communications, an Oregon-based firm retained by the oil and gas industry, dreamed up the idea of running TV ads urging citizens to think twice before signing a petition. If successful, it would reduce general election expenses considerably but since the industry has spent so many millions on PR already, it might hardly notice.

“Professional signature gatherers are hired guns who get paid when you sign their petition,” begins the latest TV spot. “Every signature is money in their pocket, which explains the effort to ban oil and natural gas development here.” Continue reading

Jul 22

Tenth Circuit Denies Rehearing in Colorado Tabor Challenge

Tenth Circuit Denies Rehearing in Colorado Tabor Challenge

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 19 rejected a request to rehear a challenge to Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
The one-sentence order from the three-judge panel likely signals the end of the road for Colorado Rep. Andy Kerr (D) and the other state lawmakers who joined him in his bid to reverse a 1992 constitutional amendment that requires a popular vote to raise taxes.
Jul 20

Colorado Priorities shelves ballot initiative to curb Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights


Organizers have shelved a ballot initiative to loosen the grip of Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill or Rights on the state’s ability to fundschools, transportation, mental health and senior services.

The executive committee of the Colorado Priorities campaign suspended the effort Monday night. The measure would have needed the signatures of at last 98,492 registered voters by Aug. 8 to get on the November ballot.

TABOR sets a revenue cap based on population and inflation. Everything over that must be refunded to taxpayers under the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1992. Initiative 117would have allowed the state to keep that revenue.


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