May 06

State could go off a fiscal cliff

State could go off a fiscal cliff

By: Barry W Poulson

May 5, 2019

Barry Poulson

Colorado has created a fiscal cliff; the state is woefully unprepared for the revenue shortfall that will accompany the next recession. Citizens might be surprised to learn that the state has been pursuing imprudent policies that will result in a fiscal crisis when the next recession hits. It is important to understand how the fiscal cliff was created and what we can do about it.

Over the past two decades, Colorado has weakened the fiscal constraints imposed by the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights. TABOR limits the rate of growth in state spending to the sum of inflation plus population growth, regardless of the amount of revenue the state takes in.

But most state revenue is exempt from the TABOR limit. The exempt funds include the revenue from enterprises and the fees collected by government agencies, which have grown rapidly over this period. As a result, over the past decade TABOR has not constrained the growth in spending, and this year the state will spend virtually every dollar of revenue it takes in. Continue reading

May 06

Sharf: Opponents of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights prove why we need it

Sharf: Opponents of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights prove why we need it

May 6, 2019 By Joshua Sharf

Look at the list of organizations supporting House Bill 19-1257, the bill to ask Colorado voters to permanently repeal Colorado’s Taxpayer ‘s Bill of Rights (TABOR) spending limits. No fewer than 60 groups hired lobbyists to push for the measure, which will appear on November’s state-wide ballot.

Everyone is represented – governments, non-profits, business groups, unions, school districts, government employees.

Everyone is represented.

Well, everyone except the taxpayer.

Which is why we need a constitutional amendment protecting the taxpayer in the first place.

While TABOR has a number of provisions designed to limit government, there are three main ones. The first requires a citizen vote on all general tax increases – income tax, payroll tax, sales & property tax, etc. Fees directly related to delivering a specific government service are exempt. So-called enterprises, which do not receive general tax revenue, are also allowed to raise their fees and charges without a vote, and what’s more, their revenue doesn’t count towards the overall cap the way than regular fees do. Continue reading

Apr 30

Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights Should Be a Model for the Nation

Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights Should Be a Model for the Nation

Requiring voters’ consent to increase taxes or debt is a very effective check on the expansion of government.

If you want proof for that assertion, check out states such as IllinoisCalifornia, and New Jersey. They all have provisions to limit red ink, yet there is more spending (and more debt) every year. There are also anti-deficit rules in nations such as GreeceFrance, and Italy, and those countries are not exactly paragons of fiscal discipline.

The real gold standard for good fiscal policy is my Golden Rule. And the best way to make sure government doesn’t grow faster than the private sector is to have a constitutional rule limiting the growth of government.

That’s why I’m a big fan of the “debt brake” in Switzerland’s constitution and Article 107 in Hong Kong’s constitution.

And it’s also why the 49 other states, assuming they want an effective fiscal rule, should look at Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) as a role model.

Continue reading

Apr 25

Coloradans may face 4 spending questions this year. Will new nicotine tax measure overload the ballot?

Michael Fields@MichaelCLFields Tweeted:
The state budget went up by $1.6B again this year. Government has enough money already.
 

Coloradans may face 4 spending questions this year. Will new nicotine tax measure overload the ballot?

The proposal, announced Wednesday by Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic state lawmakers, would set a uniform nicotine tax at 62 percent. That would lift the taxes on a package of cigarettes to $2.49 from 84 cents.

Continue reading

Apr 22

Ending Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds a deservedly tough sell to voters

Sharf: Ending Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds a deservedly tough sell to voters

TABOR opponents, bored with chipping away at the law’s foundations, have broken out the chainsaws. On the one hand, legislative Democrats are ignoring the plain language of TABOR and unilaterally enacting a universal income tax increase without a statewide vote, by calling it a “fee.”

Photo and copyright: Tony’s Takes

And on the other hand, they are proposing a ballot referendum to waive the law’s taxation restrictions. According to TABOR, any increase in general revenue above the previous year’s plus inflation and population increase must be refunded to the people. House Bill 19-1257 would remove that restriction, allowing the state to keep any and all tax revenue, forever.

In return, the money that was kept would go to transportation, transit, public education, and higher education. Theoretically, anyway. Such a deal might seem to have some superficial appeal to Colorado voters, but recent experience strongly suggests this may be a harder sell than proponents expect.

We don’t know where Referendum C dollars go

HB 1257 is Referendum C on steroids. In 2005, voters approved a temporary “time-out” from TABOR’s spending restrictions, allowing the baseline to grow at the inflation plus population formula regardless of what revenues actually did. Referendum C has allowed the state to keep about $17 billion, including over $1.2 billion in the last fiscal year alone.

Continue reading

Apr 21

The Reagan Club Hosted Penn Pfiffner To Discuss The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

The Reagan Club of Colorado was glad to host Penn Pfiffner at April’s meeting to talk about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. TABOR has kept Colorado fiscally healthy, but look for it to come under assault by the Democrats this year. Learn more about the work that The TABOR Foundation and TABOR Committee do at http://thetaborfoundation.org/.