Jan 17

Colorado Title Board denies attempt to repeal Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

DENVER — The Colorado Title Board rejected a proposal on Wednesday to put a full repeal of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) before voters in a future election.

The board voted 3-0 that the proposal violated the single subject rule and the board did not have jurisdiction to set a ballot title.

Proponents Carol Hedges and Steve Briggs had an initial hearing before the Title Board at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Although voters several years ago passed new rules that make adding an amendment to Colorado’s constitution harder, it still only takes a simple majority to repeal an amendment.

Denver-based attorney Edward Ramey, who represented the proponents, said the proposal was to do “one thing and one thing only.”

“That’s to repeal Article X, Section 20 of the Constitution,” Ramey told the board. “I emphasize that because we’re not adding anything to it. We’re not trying to tweak anything. We’re not repealing and ellipsis doing anything. This is just a straight repeal.”

Ramey said the single subject debate keeps coming up because the consensus is TABOR itself contains more than one subject, but he disagreed with those findings. He cited a couple of Colorado Supreme Court rulings that addressed the subject in a manner that he believed favored his clients in this case. Continue reading

Dec 28

It’s Not Too Late….

The World Happiness Report provides data and research used around the world to help shape and inform policy.

Among its findings: giving to others is good for you.  It makes you feel happy.1-8

 Since 1992, the TABOR Foundation protects the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  We educate citizens on why it matters to have a vote on increased taxes and how a formula for predictable growth creates a sound economy.

We are all volunteers.

We give advice and direction to citizens working at their local level to stop TABOR violations. We assist as plaintiffs and “friends of the courts in lawsuits to stop such violations.

The biggest trick of politicians is calling a new tax a “fee” – whether it’s for plastic grocery bags, living in a special district, running a hospital, driving over a bridge, or funding a mandatory family leave program with an insurance “fee.” We’ve responded to inquiries not just in Colorado, but in states like South Dakota, Kansas, Arizona, Alaska and Florida.

Please donate:

  • Help fund our Speaker’s Bureau to educate fellow taxpayers about their rights.
  • Help produce the TABOR 101 series of policy/how-to videos.
  • Help fund the legal fees for amicus briefs.

Please donate.   You – and we – will be happy you did.

Thanks – and Happy New Year!

Your friends at the TABOR Foundation

https://www.facebook.com/coloradoTABOR/

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Continue reading

Dec 15

Nicolais: An attack on TABOR could leave Colorado Democrats feeling the squeeze

Nicolais: An attack on TABOR could leave Colorado Democrats feeling the squeeze

A court composed of mostly Hickenlooper appointees turns the governor down cold, setting up a possible legislative showdown

PUBLISHED ONDEC 9, 2018 5:55AM MST

Mario Nicolais@MarioNicolaiEsq

Special to The Colorado Sun

Before walking out the door from the governor’s office, John Hickenlooper took one last shot at a Democratic boogeyman. Last week, the Colorado Supreme Court denied Hickenlooper’s parting attempt to undercut TABOR, the conservative taxpayer’s bill of rights enshrined in the Colorado constitution.

Democrats, have long derided TABOR for the constraints it places on government. Not only does TABOR require a vote of the people to approve tax increases, but several of its provisions work in conjunction with other laws to create a “ratcheting effect” on government spending.


Mario Nicolais

If revenues drop during an economic downturn, they cannot return to prior levels as the economy rebounds. Instead, growth is artificially tied to the down year plus a pittance for inflation.

The ratchet works like boa constrictor wrapped around a person. With every breath out, the snake squeezes a little tighter and the next breathe in is a little shallower.

Eventually, no breath can be drawn, and the person dies. I’m sure it delights TABOR’s progenitor, the eccentric Douglas Bruce, to imagine the government being asphyxiated.

Democrats have a little different view; they see a snake crushing the life from Colorado citizens. Gasping for funds no longer available, state and local services wither and waste away. Continue reading

Dec 10

Voter consent on taxes and debt a vital check in Democrat-controlled Colorado

Voter consent on taxes and debt a vital check in Democrat-controlled Colorado

After the midterm elections, Colorado voters woke up to an electoral map as blue as the sky. Democrats won almost all competitive races, including every state office. They now control both houses of the state legislature. But before we permanently paint Colorado blue, we should consider the outcomes of a few statewide ballot measures.

Photo and copyright: Tony’s Takes – used by permission

In fact, Colorado voters rejected most of the thirteen ballot measures at the state level. All the ballot measures proposing increased taxes and/or debt were defeated by a wide margin, including measures to fund schools and transportation. However, citizens approved a majority of the state’s local school bond issues and funding packages.

The results of these ballot measures continue a trend that began when the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment (TABOR) was ratified in 1992. TABOR requires voter approval for any increase in taxes or debt, and has proven to be the most effective state tax and spending limit in the country.  Since TABOR was adopted, very few state ballot measures calling for increased taxes or debt have been approved. However, at the local level the majority of these ballot measures have passed.

Continue reading

Oct 19

Beware the seven county-wide property tax hike, Question 7G

Beware the seven county-wide property tax hike, Question 7G

October 19, 2018

By Karl Honegger

Almost 60% of Colorado’s population, roughly 2.8 million people, live within the seven county Urban Drainage and Flood Control District (UDFCD). If you are a voter within this district, you will see question 7G on your ballot, the first question ever referred by the district since its creation in 1969.  The ballot language asks voters to approve a $14.9 million property tax increase, and to exempt that new money from the revenue limits in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).  They deceptively claim this really isn’t a tax increase, but rather just a full restoration of their taxing authority.

If you are like me and want your community protected from flooding, and also love spending time near your local pond or stream, then why would you want to vote against such a proposal?

The answer has to do with two things, common sense and government entitlement.

Any voter with common sense would want to find out how the money is to be spent and what kind of oversight mechanisms are in place. Unfortunately, the Flood District has never held an election that allows citizens to choose their board of directors. Instead, 20 of the 22 directors of the District are politicians appointed by local city councils or county commissioners. For example, the Mayor of Broomfield was appointed to the board by Broomfield City Council.  These politicians then appoint two professional engineers to serve with the Board Continue reading

Oct 10

Debate on county TABOR ballot issue

Debate on county TABOR ballot issue

  • By CHARLES ASHBY

Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese and Grand Junction resident Dennis Simpson will debate each other Wednesday on why voters should approve or reject a measure to exempt state grants the county receives from revenue limits set by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Pugliese has said passing Ballot Issue 1A next month would give the county more flexibility in its annual budget, and allow the county to act as the fiscal agent to help nonprofits get state grants.

Simpson, however, has said the county doesn’t need to exempt that money, which amounts to about $21 million of the county’s $165 million annual budget. He said the county already has the ability to accept money on behalf of nonprofits, and if there are issues with state grant revenues coming up against the TABOR cap, the county can ask voters each time, as the constitutional amendment allows.

Under TABOR, any revenue — a fee or tax — state or local governments bring in unless otherwise exempted is subject to the amendment’s revenue cap, which limits year-over-year growth. Some of the money the state collects is given to local governments in the form of grants, money that already is counted under the state’s TABOR cap.

TABOR exempts federal money that the state and local governments receive, but it doesn’t exempt money local governments get from the state.

TABOR only specifies that pass-through money isn’t counted under a local government’s cap when that money is collected by one government and goes to another, such as property taxes collected by a county that goes directly to a city, town or school district within its boundaries. Oftentimes, state grants to nonprofit groups require those groups to use a local government to act as a fiscal agent for pass-through money, but TABOR is silent on whether that money should be counted under the TABOR cap.

According to Colorado Counties Inc., a statewide lobbying and advocacy group, voters in 51 of the state’s 64 counties have approved blanket TABOR revenue limit waivers.

Voters in several other counties have approved TABOR exemptions for specific programs, such as revenues that fund their human services departments, or for specific projects, such as water resources or transportation projects. Still others have exempted specific revenue sources, such as non-tax money.

Overall, only one county — Weld — has never passed any form of TABOR exemption. Other counties have passed specific exemptions for specific projects, including one in Mesa County. In 2001, voters here approved exempting $3 million the county received in a railroad grant to build the 30 Road underpass.

If voters approve the ballot measure, Mesa County would be the first in Colorado to exempt only state grants.

https://www.gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/debate-on-county-tabor-ballot-issue/article_b20e6c8a-cb83-11e8-811e-10604b9f6eda.html

Sep 21

Most Coloradans aren’t getting a TABOR tax refund – for now – according to latest revenue forecast

Most Coloradans aren’t getting a TABOR tax refund – for now – according to latest revenue forecast

The state collected $37.5 million more than it’s allowed under TABOR

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

Most Coloradans won’t get a TABOR tax refund next spring even though the state collected millions more dollars than it’s allowed to keep, according to the quarterly revenue forecast presented to lawmakers Thursday.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, limits how much money Colorado can collect from residents each year. Whatever comes in above the limit has to go back to the people. And for the fiscal year that ended in June, that’s a total of about $37 million.

However, a 2017 law requires the first refunds go to the state-administered senior homestead exemption and disabled veterans property tax exemption before they go to everyone else.

Exceeding the TABOR limit is a sign of the Colorado economy’s continued growth — even beyond the expectations of just a few months ago. In the last quarterly report, in June, state forecasters thought revenue would come in under the TABOR cap by $93 million.

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

Aug 30

Nonprofit leaders back TABOR ballot issue

Nonprofit leaders back TABOR ballot issue

County would reap benefits, they say

Nonprofit leaders back TABOR ballot issue

Carol Skubic, secretary and treasure, left, and Sharon Raggio, CEO of Mind Springs Health and West Springs Hospital, right, answer questions about the county’s proposed TABOR exemption outside the West Springs Hospital on Tuesday.

A ballot measure that would allow Mesa County to accept state grants as a revenue stream outside strict governmental growth limits could open potential funding sources for local projects, ranging from a psychiatric hospital facility to a new space for a nonprofit that services developmentally disabled adults, advocates said at a Tuesday press conference.

Leaders of Mind Springs Health, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations called the event Tuesday morning, the day after the Mesa County Commission voted to place Issue 1A on the November ballot.

The ballot issue involves Mesa County’s relationship with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which limits governmental income, including grants, unless an exception is made. Mesa County voters in November will decide whether the county can permanently make that exception for state grants, which are often applied for by nonprofits using the county government as a pass-through agency.

The still-under-construction Mind Springs Health psychiatric hospital project became a case study on the legal tangle last year when the county decided not to apply for a $5 million grant that could have made a major dent in the group’s fundraising goals in anticipation of going over TABOR limits.

“Had we been able to partner with the county as well as other communities in being able to secure some TABOR funds, that would have really put us over the top (of fundraising efforts),” said Mind Springs President and CEO Sharon Raggio at the event outside the facility.

HopeWest President and CEO Christy Whitney said she hopes voters will agree.

“There’s a lot of state money available to make some amazing things happen in Mesa County, but we have just fundamentally not been able to access it because of the really outdated view of the TABOR law,” Whitney said.

Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said both her organization and the Grand Junction Economic Partnership are behind the measure, in part because they believe that local nonprofits provide important services that serve the workforce, that the ballot measure is in “the spirit”of TABOR, and that state grants are partially funded by severance taxes that local businesses pay.

“It’s only right that those dollars can come back and help the nonprofits that are doing the good work,” Schwenke said.

https://www.gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/nonprofit-leaders-back-tabor-ballot-issue/article_ca9261ce-ab50-11e8-9dbe-10604b9f7e7c.html

Aug 30

Arvada, Lakewood each put spending measures on November ballot that avoid tax increases

Arvada, Lakewood each put spending measures on November ballot that avoid tax increases

Measures would fund transportation improvements, open space purchases

By JOHN AGUILAR | jaguilar@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

PUBLISHED: August 28, 2018 at 6:11 pm |

Suburban voters west of Denver will weigh in on more than $100 million in municipal spending proposals on this fall’s ballot, with Arvada residents set to vote on two major road projects and residents in Lakewood ready to decide whether the city can hang on to extra revenues to fix roads, buy open space property and purchase law enforcement equipment.

Each ballot measure was sent to the Nov. 6 ballot Monday night by a vote of the city council in its community. Neither would raise taxes.

Lakewood’s measure asks voters if the city can retain and spend $12.5 million in revenues it collected in 2017 that exceed what the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, permits governments in Colorado to keep. The measure also asks if the city can do the same with any excess money it collects through fiscal year 2025. Continue reading

Aug 15

IN RESPONSE | We don’t need a tax hike to fix Colorado’s highways

In this Jan. 7 photo, traffic backs up on Interstate 70 in Colorado, a familiar scene on the main highway connecting Denver to the mountains. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

(Re: “Only one ballot issue can tackle Colorado’s transportation challenges,” Aug. 10.)

Let’s fix our roads without a massive 21 percent increase of our state sales tax. The collaborative cronyists’ proposal, “Let’s Go Colorado” — a huge tax increase, allegedly for transportation — hurts everyday, hardworking Coloradans who are chasing their American dream.  If the politicians, bureaucrats, governmental appointees and interested parties behind the proposal, get their way, we’ll pay an additional 21 percent in state sales tax on basic items that make our lives better such as diapers, toilet paper and school supplies.

When enjoying a craft brew with colleagues, buying a good book or meeting friends for dinner, we would pay an additional 21 percent in state sales tax.  And those new school clothes, soccer balls, books and dance shoes for the kids?  You got it!  An additional 21 percent in state sales tax.  If passed, Colorado would be the 13th-highest state in the country for taxes at the register.

Politicians, bureaucrats, governmental appointees and interested parties are selling this new tax as only cents on the dollar.  Here’s the reality: Currently, Colorado state sales tax sits at 2.9 percent.  Let’s Go Colorado would increase the state sales tax to 3.52 percent, which is a significant 21 percent increase.  And it’s a regressive tax that disproportionately hurts people in the toughest situations and who trying to get ahead, such as the poor, vulnerable, elderly and our young people.

There is a better way to get Colorado going. “Fix Our Damn Roads” is a ballot initiative that directs the state legislature to dedicate a portion of Colorado’s growing revenue to fix our roads and bridges, without increasing taxes. Colorado has the money.  Our revenue continues to increase.  Colorado is expected to collect an additional $1.29 billion next fiscal year, thanks to federal tax cuts, economic growth and a resurgent oil and gas industry.  Colorado has the money.

Gas taxes were created as a user tax.  The tax was charged at the pump and the tax revenue was to be used for our roads and bridges.  However, the state has been spending our gas tax money on pet projects and other stuff.  Per an Institute of Energy Research report, 16 percent of federal gas tax money is siphoned off for non-road and bridge projects such as transit, pedestrian and bicycle paths and facilities, recreation trails, landscaping, environmental mitigation and transportation museums.  If the money would have gone to where it was promised and purposed, our roads and bridges would be in good condition and repair.

Let’s compare the two competing transportation ballot questions for this November.  Fix Our Damn Roads:  (1) Fixes our roads and bridges without a tax increase; (2) designates exactly where the money will be spent; (3) names the projects (From CDOT’S Tier One list) in the ballot measure; (4) honors the will of the people and TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights; (5) does not include carve-outs for special interests, and (6) bonds for $3.5 billion with a repayment cost, including interest, of $5.2 billion to fix our roads and bridges.

Let’s Go Colorado: (1) Proposes a massive 21 percent state sales tax increase; (2) provides a goody bag of money for politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and interested parties to spend on pet projects; (3) lacks transparency and accountability to everyday, hardworking Coloradans, i.e. there are no specific projects named in the ballot measure; (4) includes language that money collected above the TABOR limits is not returned to the people; (5) includes an exemption for aviation and jet fuels, and (6) bonds for $6 billion with a repayment cost, including interest, of $9.4 billion.  Fix Our Damn Roads saves hardworking Coloradans at least $4.2 billion.

We all agree that our roads and bridges could use a little love.  Together, we can do this.  It’s time to Fix Our Damn Roads and let’s do it without a massive tax increase!

Kim Monson
Lone Tree

The author is a former city councilwoman for Lone Tree and co-hosts the “Americhicks — Molly Vogt & Kim Monson” radio show on KLZ 560 AM and the “WWII Project” on KEZW 1430.  

 

IN RESPONSE | We don’t need a tax hike to fix Colorado’s highways