Jul 20

Ballot campaign to suspend Colorado’s TABOR revenue caps ends

ED SEALOVER | DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL

Dan Ritchie, one of the leaders of the Building a Better Colorado initiative

DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL – Concerned about ballot fatigue and suffering from a lack of fundraising, organizers of the Colorado Priorities campaign to pass a statewide de-Brucing ballot initiative blunting the impact of the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights ended their efforts for the 2016 election on Tuesday.

The proposal would have allowed the state government to keep any revenue it collected above the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights limit over the next 10 years and put it to prescribed uses — at least 35 percent toward education, at least 35 percent toward transportation and anything else toward mental-health and senior services.

Doing so would have eliminated the possibility of TABOR refunds that otherwise would go to statewide taxpayers when revenues exceed the caps.

However, organizers said they became increasingly worried about getting their message out during an election that could feature as many as 10 other ballot initiatives, as well as presidential and U.S. Senate races in this state.

Read more at the Denver Business Journal: http://bit.ly/29WUagr

Jul 20

TABOR timeout ballot measure won’t go to voters this year

TABOR timeout ballot measure won’t go to voters this year

A group trying to convince voters to hit the pause button on the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which limits government spending, has officially called it quits.

The effort would have been what Coloradans call a “de-Brucing,” named as such because the architect of TABOR is an anti-tax folk hero named Douglas Bruce. (Fun fact: He’s sitting in prison right now on charges that stem from a previous bust for tax evasion.)

Backed by a group called Colorado Priorities, the ballot measure would have asked voters in November if they wanted to grant the state government permission, for 10 years, to retain tax money that flowed over TABOR-mandated revenue caps. TABOR currently requires any revenue generated over projected limits to go back to individual taxpayers in the form of refunds.

If voters approved the measure, that money would instead have gone specifically toward transportation, education, mental health and senior services.

Colorado Priorities would have had to gather nearly 100,000 valid signatures in Colorado to get their proposal on the ballot. Petitioners were asking voters for their John Hancocks as recently as last week. The ballot measure grew out of an initiative called Building a Better Colorado, a bipartisan group of state leaders who held meetings around Colorado to determine what measures to try and put to voters this year. Continue reading

Jul 20

Ballot campaign to suspend Colorado’s TABOR revenue caps ends

Concerned about ballot fatigue and suffering from a lack of fundraising, organizers of the Colorado Priorities campaign to pass a statewide de-Brucing ballot initiative blunting the impact of the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights ended their efforts for the 2016 election on Tuesday.

The proposal would have allowed the state government to keep any revenue it collected above the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights limit over the next 10 years and put it to prescribed uses — at least 35 percent toward education, at least 35 percent toward transportation and anything else toward mental-health and senior services.

Doing so would have eliminated the possibility of TABOR refunds that otherwise would go to statewide taxpayers when revenues exceed the caps. Continue reading

Jul 20

Backers Pull Ballot Measure That Would Have Put TABOR On Pause

Backers Pull Ballot Measure That Would Have Put TABOR On Pause | CPR

Colorado Priorities, a group backing a ballot measure that would have eased a revenue cap on state government, announced Tuesday that it has suspended its campaign.

The measure would have temporarily suspended refunds to taxpayers, as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights — or TABOR — requires when revenue collection outpaces population growth and inflation. The group says that revenue is needed elsewhere, especially in the state’s school and transportation systems.

Colorado Priorities’ executives cited a crowded ballot in their decision to stop their campaign.

 

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Jul 19

Lesley Smith and Laurie Albright: Sign a petition to de-fang TABOR

Yup, spend more.
That’s the blueprint for fixing everything.
According to them, more money will solve public education.
Obama’s $870 Billion dollar Stimulus failed because it was too little.
They wanted to spend more, more, more.
Then you looked at the results.
No improvement at all.
But we’re deeper in debt and they are none the wiser.
Thank God for TABOR!
The Colorado economy is booming now compared to during the recent recession, but because of a 26-year-old tax policy embedded in the Colorado Constitution (informally called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or “TABOR”), Colorado cannot invest all of its tax revenue to make up for cuts made during those harder economic times. Instead, the amendment says that all revenue collected above an out-of-date cap must be refunded to Colorado taxpayers. Each taxpayer received a refund of $13 to $41 this year, while our state continued to cut funds for basic infrastructure and services.

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Jun 20

Vote NO on Initiative 117

FYI, Vote NO on Initiative 117. Spread the word.
 

Initiative #117

State Spending
Proposes amending the Colorado statutes to:
  • allow the state to keep and spend all revenue it collects through June 30, 2026;
  • raise the limit on the amount the state may keep and spend beginning July 1, 2026; and
  • require that any money the state keeps over its existing limit be spent on education, transportation projects, mental health services, and senior services, rather than refunding the money to taxpayers.
initiative 117
http://www.leg.state.co.us/LCS/Initiative%20Referendum/1516initrefr.nsf/b74b3fc5d676cdc987257ad8005bce6a/d87ae53dd844f43a87257fae00744f6f/$FILE/2015-2016%20117v1.pdf
May 24

Two Decades of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR)

Executive Summary:
Over two decades have passed since Colorado voters adopted The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in 1992. TABOR allows government spending to grow each year at the rate of inflation-plus-population. Government can increase faster whenever voters consent. Likewise, tax rates can be increased whenever voters consent. This Issue Paper analyzes TABOR’s effect on state government spending and taxes by examining three decades: The 1983-92 pre-TABOR decade; the first decade of TABOR, 1993-2002; and the second decade, 2003-12. The final decade included the largest tax increase in Colorado history, enacted as Referendum C in 2005. Decade-2 was also marked by increasing efforts to evade TABOR by defining nearly 60% of the state budget as “exempt” from TABOR.

Conclusion:

Tax-and-Spending Limitation Results

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment has worked well to achieve its stated intention to “slow government growth.”  Although government has still continued to grow significantly faster than the rate of population-plus-inflation, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights did partially dampen excess government growth.  It did not cut or reduce reasonable government growth.

In terms of economic vitality, Colorado’s Decade-1 was best for Colorado.  Unlike in the pre-TABOR decade, or in TABOR Decade-2 with its record increase in taxes and spending, because of Referendum C, Colorado’s first TABOR decade saw the state economy far outperform the national economy.

https://www.i2i.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/IP-4-2016_b.pdf

 

Two Decades of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR)

May 22

GUEST COLUMN: Say “no” to a special session

GUEST COLUMN: Say “no” to a special session

By: Michael Fields

May 21, 2016

AFP Michael Fields

Not even 48 hours after the legislative session ended, the governor floated the idea of convening a special session to address the hotly debated hospital provider fee.

This drumbeat has continued in the press, with pressure from countless special interest groups who didn’t get their way during the normal 120-day session. And this all comes after the Senate Finance Committee voted down a bill to move the $750 million hospital provider fee into a separate enterprise fund for the second year in a row.

Proponents of this move want you to believe that to fix roads and help schools, this budget gimmick is desperately needed. They have grabbed onto compelling buzzwords, cleverly invoked as rationale to adopt this plan. These messages are used to pull on people’s heart strings and convince them that enterprising the hospital provider fee would somehow fix our transportation and education needs. The fact is creating this enterprise would be an end-run around our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and would not fix our long-term funding problems.

To fully understand what has been going on with our state budget, let’s look at a few numbers:

– The state budget has gone from $19 billion to $27 billion in just seven years. Continue reading

May 22

Partisan posturing trumps a better Colorado

Perspective

Partisan posturing trumps a better Colorado

By Henry Dubroff and John Huggins
Posted:   05/21/2016 05:00:00 PM MDT

TABOR local leaders discuss changesLocal leaders discuss possible changes to the state’s constitutional initiative process in a small group during the Building a Better Colorado community summit at Northeastern Junior College on Dec. 7. (Sterling Journal-Advocate)

 

The tensions between populism and policymaking that are so evident in this year’s presidential primaries have trickled down to the state level.

In Colorado’s case, major policy reforms — including those that emerged from last fall’s Building a Better Colorado process of town hall meetings — have at times taken a back seat to partisan posturing.

But the Building a Better Colorado reforms remain a key part of the civic agenda, especially in these three areas:

  • Reform or replace the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), or put in place a “TABOR relief valve” so that the state may keep a bigger share of tax revenue to fund roads, schools and other infrastructure necessary to serve Colorado’s growing population.
  • Reform our primary election process so that the results better reflect the will of voters and also put Colorado where it belongs on the national political map, as the most influential swing state in the Rocky Mountain region.
  • Establish somewhat higher though reachable hurdles for qualifying and approving constitutional amendments, taking into account Colorado’s diverse geographic and demographic interests.

The difficulty in getting TABOR relief approved in the just-finished legislative session underscores how tricky it is to enact reforms in an election year where the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders insurgencies are having a big impact. In the state Senate, for example, majority Republicans were pushed by the Colorado chapter of the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity not to tweak the language of the state’s hospital provider fee and exempt it from TABOR limits. The penalty: facing a more conservative primary opponent at the next election.

To read the rest of this Denver Post story about TABOR, click (HERE):

May 13

GOP: Hospital fees under TABOR

GOP: Hospital fees under TABOR

DENVER — Even though it had near universal support outside of the Capitol, Republicans in a Senate committee Tuesday killed a measure that some had hoped would free up money for schools and transportation without raising taxes or fees.

The Senate Finance Committee, on a party-line 3-2 vote, killed a measure to turn the state’s hospital provider fee program, which funds health care programs for the poor, into a state-run government enterprise.

Doing so would free up about $750 million under the revenue caps mandated by the voter-approved Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, something the 1992 constitutional amendment expressly allows.

But Republicans in the GOP-controlled committee said the idea flies in the face of TABOR’s spending limits, saying it would allow for unlimited growth when it comes to Medicaid spending.

“I do believe it is a major cash transfer, and I believe it was set up accordingly so that it would not come under the strong scrutiny of the voters of Colorado,” said Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, who chairs the committee. “I believe that was not by accident.”

The issue has been a major theme of the 2016 legislative session, which ends today.

It actually started at the end of last year’s session when Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed taking the program out from under TABOR, in part because it’s a fee paid by hospitals and not taxpayers.

or 

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