Mar 27

Rural Republicans tell lawmakers it’s time for action on Hospital Provider Fee

The big issue: would it be an end run around TABOR or not? Does it lower the base or not?

Dire funding news for the state’s hospitals has left Republicans in rural Colorado pleading with the legislature to restructure the Hospital Provider Fee, despite ideological beliefs.

It is a thorny issue that pits conservatives in the legislature against fellow Republicans in rural parts of the state.

Hospitals face a $264 million reduction in the upcoming budget that begins in July. That number is up from an initial budget request in November, which proposed a $195-million reduction. Rural hospitals are expected to receive the worst of it, with expectations for some hospitals to close.

Budget writers have proposed a $28.3 billion annual spending plan that lawmakers will begin to debate this week. In an effort to pass a balanced budget, the Joint Budget Committee proposed reducing collections of the Hospital Provider Fee.

 

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Mar 21

Changes to TABOR will hurt state taxpayers

Changes to TABOR will hurt state taxpayers

By Linda GormanGuest Columnist

A Republican-sponsored bill in the Colorado legislature would likely let state government keep more of your tax money whether it needs it or not.

In 2005, Referendum C suspended Colorado’s constitutional limit on the amount of tax revenues that the state could keep. Called the “TABOR timeout,” the Referendum allowed the state to reset the limit on state revenue collection at the highest amount of annual revenue received between June FY 2005-6 and FY 2009-10. Referendum C was a permanent tax increase, which has increased Colorado state spending by an estimated $2.6 billion over the last decade. At present, only 38 percent of state spending remains subject to TABOR.

Now the tax and spend coalition wants more.

Some state officials are understandably delighted by any measure that relieves them of the drudgery of running the state on a tight budget. It is much less taxing to be a state legislator when revenues are rising than when they are falling. When spending must be cut, difficult choices are required. No one is happy.

 

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Mar 11

Dave Wallace: Ballot measure 1A

To the editor:

Reading through the mailing I received that was also sent out to all registered voters referring to Measure 1A it becomes very obvious the City believes it desperately needs additional funding which will be the outcome if 1A passes. I am in agreement that it probably is necessary providing the information presented to the public in this “Notice of Election” and along with the mailing that accompanied this month’s utility billing is in fact correct.

I do find myself somewhat troubled over several issues, I have yet to see a commitment from the city that during these times of economic struggle they assure the public their business will be run as efficiently as possible and they will focus on conducting business off of a priority list rather than the wish list.

 

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Mar 11

TABOR bill sponsor responds to constituents and bows out; says he will vote against changes

DENVER – One of three Republican sponsors on a bill that would change the way revenue is capped under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) has had a change of heart.

Despite the fact supporting TABOR is one of the many issues that normally binds conservatives, Representatives Phil Covarrubias, (R-Adams/Arapahoe), Dan Thurlow (R-Mesa) and Lois Landgraf, (R-El Paso) all originally advocated for a change to the 25-year-old constitutional amendment that restricts tax increases without a vote of the people and caps state revenue.

Covarrubias, however, said he took enough backlash for his role in it that he announced via social media that he was pulling his name from the sponsorship of HB17-1187.

“In case you have not heard: per the request of my constituents, I have decided to take my name off HB 1187 and will be voting against it,” Covarrubias said on his Twitter feed.

The Tweet came as welcome news to many fellow Republicans who immediately retweeted the announcement with words of gratitude.

Senate Bill 1187 would ask voters in November to change the revenue cap from one that is based on percentage increase in state population plus the rate of inflation to one that is based on Colorado personal income growth over a rolling calendar of the previous six years.

The bill passed third and final reading Friday and now moves to the Senate, where Republicans hold a one-vote majority. It is expected to be heavily debated again.

Opponents say the current formula takes into consideration that a larger population requires more government services while proponents argue the current formula is outdated. Continue reading

Mar 11

Colorado transportation funding bill arrives, calling for sales-tax hike, $3.5B in bonds

Following eight months of negotiations, the Colorado Legislature’s leaders late Wednesday introduced a 20-year transportation-funding bill asking voters to approve a sales tax hike to generate some $677 million per year for highway and transit projects — without making significant cuts to existing state revenues.

Observers, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, quickly referred to House Bill 1242 as a starting point, saying they expect details about everything from the size of the tax hike, to the allocation of new revenues, to be up for debate in the two months that the Legislature has left in its 2017 session.

But House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, and state Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, both expressed gratitude at finding a compromise they believe can muster support of their two parties’ lawmakers before they take their case to voters.

“We want to make sure that roads and bridges and transportation options across the state are adequately funded for generations to come,” Duran said shortly after introducing the bill just past 5 p.m. Wednesday.

She will co-sponsor HB 1242 in the House along with state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, the Steamboat Springs Democrat who chairs the House Transportation and Energy Committee, which will hear the proposal first.

“Introduction of this transportation bill doesn’t mean we’ve arrived, just that we’ve hit another important mile marker on the long and winding road to a long-term transportation fix for Colorado,” Grantham said in a statement. Continue reading

Mar 11

Colorado’s Constitutional conundrum: Gallagher vs. TABOR amendments, and what it means for us

FYI. Posted as it mentions TABOR and you can see what the other side is saying….

EAGLE COUNTY — Call it the Colorado Conundrum.

Colorado homeowners in the next couple of years will see a property tax break, while our state government is forced to make budget cuts. That’s because we stand at the crossroads of a couple of constitutional amendments — Gallagher and the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

Tim Hoover is the communications director for the Colorado Fiscal Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan fiscal policy and analysis organization. They don’t have a dog in this fight, but if they did they’d root against TABOR.

“This is a profoundly serious problem. TABOR is not a watchdog. It’s a rabid dog,” Hoover said. “TABOR is literally threatening public safety.”

When the Gallagher Amendment intersects with TABOR, that causes problems, Hoover explained.

IT’S NOT COMPLICATED

That conflict is not as complicated as you might think, and it goes like this: Continue reading

Mar 11

House Bill 1187: Why should state government get to spend more just because people work more?

A Republican-sponsored bill in the Colorado legislature would likely let state government keep more of your tax money whether it needs it or not.

In 2005, Referendum C suspended Colorado’s constitutional limit on the amount of tax revenues that the state could keep. Called the “TABOR timeout,” the Referendum allowed the state to reset the limit on state revenue collection at the highest amount of annual revenue received between June FY 2005-6 and FY 2009-10. Referendum C was a permanent tax increase. As the table below shows, it has increased Colorado state spending by an estimated $2.6 billion over the last decade. At present, only 38 percent of state spending remains subject to TABOR.

refcNow the tax and spend coalition wants more.

Some state officials are understandably delighted by any measure that relieves them of the drudgery of running the state on a tight budget. It is much less taxing to be a state legislator when revenues are rising than when they are falling. When spending must be cut, difficult choices are required. No one is happy. Continue reading

Mar 03

Case given new life that could throw state’s elections system in flux

Case given new life that could throw state’s elections system in flux

 

The Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday sent a case back to a lower court that could leave future funding for state and local elections in jeopardy.

The case, filed by the National Federation of Independent Business, claims that businesses carry an unfair burden of the cost of funding state and county elections. The business group hopes to reclaim the revenue, which would potentially throw elections into flux.

The appellate decision is not immediate cause for concern for state officials, as the court is only requiring the lower court to gather more information before making a decision.

“We reverse the summary judgment and remand to the district court with directions to hold further proceedings to determine whether the Business and Licensing charges have been adjusted or increased since the passage of TABOR in 1992, so as to require voter approval for the adjustments,” the Court of Appeals wrote in its decision.

“Depending on the court’s determination, it may need to reach the issue as to whether the Business and Licensing charges constitute a tax or a fee.”

That last statement by the court represents the heart of the case and what could cast uncertainty over elections in Colorado. More broadly, it could throw a curveball to all state departments that are funded by fees.

The question is whether business filings collected by the department qualify as a “fee” or a “tax.”

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