Feb 12

Hickenlooper says state needs to spend big to prepare for growth

DENVER, CO - January 15: Colorado governor JohnHickenlooper talks about changes he wants to see happen for the state next year and beyond Thursday, January 15, 2015 at the Colorado State Capitol building in Denver, Colorado. Governor Hickenlooper delivered his fifth State of the State address to bring awareness of Colorado's growth and where the state is heading in the future with developments in education, health and environment. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post) Source: DP Filename: CD16STATEOFSTATE_BL26493x.jpg

Gov. John Hickenlooper ended his remarks to the Economic Club of Colorado on Tuesday with a warning for the state’s business leaders.

A major focus of his second term is preparing for Colorado’s impending growth — with 3 million more residents expected in the next 20 years, he said. The Democrat said Colorado is growing “almost too rapidly” and the growth costs money.

“We’re probably going to have to spend a bunch of money that will take the business community stepping up,” he said, saying industry leaders will need to recognize the need to spend money on roads and infrastructure.

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Feb 11

TABOR, budget and rebates … Oh, my!

My work on the JBC this month consisted of understanding and voting on “supplementals.” These are bills that bring the budget that ends next July in line with actual spending and forecasts for the rest of this fiscal year. The biggest growth in this year is coming from additional case load and costs in Medicaid and overruns in information technology projects.

We move next week onto “figure setting,” which sets the budget for July 2015 through the June 2016 fiscal year. The state of Colorado will spend about $26 billion next year from a combination of taxes, fees and federal dollars. But the work of the JBC isn’t just about numbers. We also are responsible for overseeing the department’s operations and performance. There are just six of us on the JBC, three from each party, and we’re working together very cooperatively this year to solve real problems.

Continue reading

Feb 09

TABOR debate carries long-term results

Who do you trust to spend your money: You, or the government?

Unfortunately for Coloradans, that’s not a rhetorical question. At issue is the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — and it’s currently under assault.

Enacted by voters in 1992, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is a state constitutional amendment that protects Colorado taxpayers against the runaway spending that is threatening state budgets across the country and has driven many local governments into bankruptcy. It has two central components. First, voters may reject any proposed state tax increase, as they have by huge margins twice in recent years. Second, the state must issue tax refunds when total revenues for any given year outpace inflation and population growth.

That second component is now being threatened. 2015 is projected to be the first year since the 2008-09 recession that taxpayers are likely to be eligible for a refund — a refund of roughly $116 million. The principle supporting this refund is simple: Once government has sufficient funds to cover current operations and nominal growth, any excess revenues should be returned to the people who earned it and paid it in the first place: State taxpayers like you and me.

But a growing number of state politicians and pundits disagree. They argue the limits imposed by the Bill of Rights prevent the government from spending that money on important items. As a result, the argument goes, the state should keep the $116 million to spend on key infrastructure projects and K-12 education, which ostensibly are experiencing budget shortfalls. Continue reading

Feb 05

Forget Income Tax Refunds. Coloradans Might Get a Marijuana Refund! (Paid Out in Money, Not Pot)

Getty – Kevork Djansezian

Americans who are getting a jump on their income taxes may already be looking forward to receiving (and spending) their refund checks. But for those who live in Colorado, another type of rebate may be making its way toward their bank accounts: a “reefer refund”!

According to state law, Denver may be forced to return some of the money collected in recreational marijuana taxes during the first, full year of legal sales. Residents and tourists racked up $50 million in taxation revenue for Colorado in 2012.

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The state constitution contains an amendment referred to as a Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR), which was approved by voters almost a quarter-century ago. In addition to requiring all new taxes to receive the go-ahead from Colorado voters, TABOR also compels the state to issue refunds to taxpayers whenever it takes in too much money in revenues. The definition of “too much” is set by a complex formula that has been established under the law.

Since TABOR was passed, residents of the Rocky Mountain State have received these types of refunds six times, with total amounts ranging from about $40 million to over $1 billion.

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Feb 05

Grand Junction City Council adds new measure to April ballot regarding the Westside Beltway Project

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Grand Junction City Council is looking into completing the Westside Beltway project several years later, but TABOR funds are needed in order to finish the project.

The citizens of Grand Junction voted for the city to continue holding tabor override taxes to pay off the debt of Riverside Parkway early. However the city is looking to now continue the Westside Beltway project, making 22 and 25 road more traffic friendly.

It would improve 25 Road from I-70B, along F1/2 Road and 24 Road to I-70. The timing and funding of this project is one of the reasons they are now putting it on the ballot.

“If voters decide they want us to do this, we will be finishing this project at the same time the previous project would be paid off. So both projects would be paid off at the same time,” said Phyllis Norris, the Mayor of Grand Junction.

This project is an attempt to relieve some of the traffic from Patterson Road, as well as provide a easy route to the interstate from Riverside Parkway.

There are millions of taxpayers’ dollars set aside for the project, slated to start in 2017 if the measure is passed. However more funds are needed, to the tune of $12.5 million dollars, which is why the ballot measure will be asking citizens to use additional funds from TABOR.


Jan 30

The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Colorado’s TABOR law


The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Colorado’s TABOR law

By Mark K. Matthews
The Denver Post

POSTED:   01/12/2015 12:01:00 AM MST

Douglas Bruce, author of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, is pictured in 2005.

Douglas Bruce, author of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, is pictured in 2005.


WASHINGTON — If Colorado politics were like daytime TV, then the state’s controversial TABOR law would be its longest-running soap opera.

Few issues can match the drama — and staying power — of the 1992 measure, which has survived repeated attempts to dismantle its requirement that lawmakers get permission from voters before raising taxes.

Now, though, the so-called Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is getting a shot at prime time. As soon as Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of a lawsuit against TABOR.

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Jan 29

Monday is the Trial date for TABOR vs RTD/SCFD court case

TABOR Supporter,

The TABOR Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the Regional Transportation District and the Science and Cultural Facilities District for their violations of TABOR.  The first court appearance will be on Monday, February 2 at 2:30 in courtroom 424 in the City and County Building (1437 Bannock St, Denver, 80202).  It would be a great show of support to have friends of TABOR present for at least part of the proceedings.  If anyone is able to attend, it would be good to know that ahead of the hearing on Monday.

Bob Foland
Executive Director
TABOR Foundation

(To refresh your memory, this is what the lawsuit is about)

TABOR group sues 2 special districts — RTD, SCFD — over new tax

By Monte Whaley
The Denver Post

POSTED:   10/24/2013

The nonprofit TABOR Foundation is suing to stop the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District from collecting sales tax on food, beverages, cigarettes, advertising materials and food containers.

The foundation filed a request for preliminary injunction Thursday in Jefferson County District Court, asking that the districts be blocked from collecting the tax starting Jan. 1, as allowed by a new state law.

House Bill 1272 lifted exemptions on items the districts could tax. Previously, sales of food, beverages, cigarettes, advertising materials and food containers were off limits to RTD and SCFD.

The tax is expected to net $2.7 million for RTD and $270,000 for SCFD next year, according to the complaint. Continue reading

Jan 28

Legislative Coffee event kicks off

As the Colorado 2015 Legislative Session moves into full-swing, Morgan County stakeholders will begin discussions with representatives.

Stakeholders started those discussions Monday with the first Legislative Coffee event. Representatives from area businesses, Morgan County Economic Development Corporation, Morgan Community College, Brush Chamber of Commerce, Fort Morgan Area Chamber of Commerce, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Fort Morgan attended the event Monday at Café Lotus.

The small group met with State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and State Rep. Jon Becker to discuss bills and matters at the state legislative session.

The Legislative Coffee event on Monday followed a less formal format than usual, Becker said.

“Sometimes it’s more formal where people stand up and present, but it’s still early in the session,” Becker said.

The group discussed matters regarding tax on medical marijuana, faster internet services in the eastern plains and Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Continue reading

Jan 24

Colorado House GOP upset after Democrats kill school funding bill

By Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post

POSTED:   01/23/2015

(Denver Post file photo)

A House Republican says he can’t understand why his bill to give more money for education was killed by Democrats even though it had the support of the teachers’ union, school boards and superintendents.

“My bill would have directed unexpected surplus revenue to our schools,” said Rep. Jon Becker of Fort Morgan. “I can’t think of a better investment than our kids’ futures.”

He pointed out there was no opposition Wednesday when he presented House Bill 1058 to the Finance Committee, where it died on a 6-5 party-line vote.

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