Jul 20

Colorado Court of Appeals rejects challenge under Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

Colorado Court of Appeals rejects challenge under Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights – Lexology

In a case decided on June 30, 2016, the Colorado Court of Appeals considered whether the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District violated the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (“TABOR”). The Court of Appeals’ decision reflects, courts are reluctant to invalidate legislation on TABOR grounds. The decision also makes it more difficult to challenge TABOR.

TABOR requires advance voter approval before a district may collect any new tax, increase a tax rate, or change a tax policy that causes a net tax revenue gain. Under Colorado law, the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (the “Districts”), along with the state, are granted taxing power.

In 2009, the legislature removed the state sales tax exemption for cigarettes, but the exemption remained in place for the Districts. In other words, the state could collect sales tax on cigarettes starting in 2009, but the Districts could not. The legislature also removed exemptions for direct mail advertising materials, candy, soda, and food containers in 2010, but these exemptions remained in place for the Districts.

 

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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
Jun 10

EDITORIAL: Celebrate TABOR for Making Colorado strong

EDITORIAL: Celebrate TABOR for Making Colorado strong | Colorado Springs Gazette, News

By: The Gazette editorial board

June 9, 2016 Updated: 
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Colorado is reliably hot, economically. During good times and bad nationally and internationally, the economy typically produces above-average indicators when compared to other states. When Forbes, Business Insider and others rank states by economic performance, Colorado sometimes ranks first and seldom fails to finish among the top five.

One economic factor makes Colorado different than all other states. It’s called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Only Colorado has such a law.

TABOR is like that persnickety old-school spouse who won’t let the household live beyond its means. The rest of the family may resent the rules, because compulsive spending is fun. But they ultimately benefit from the safety and security of a stable home.

The law restricts government spending with a formula that accounts for inflation and population growth. If revenues exceed what the formula allows, politicians must return the windfalls unless voters say otherwise. All changes to tax policy must be approved by a public vote.

TABOR is constantly under attack because it tells politicians “no.” It limits their ability to spend. But the benefits are not in question if one examines the facts.

 

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Jun 08

Anti-TABOR lawsuit deserved latest setback in federal court

 

Anti-TABOR lawsuit deserved latest setback in federal court

Cynthia Coffman picture

Cyrus McCrimmon, Denver Post file

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is defending the state against a lawsuit regarding TABOR.

By The Denver Post Editorial Board |

June 7, 2016 |

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has multiple flaws that this editorial page has documented repeatedly over the years while urging lawmakers and voters to fix them.

We’re also on record as recently as last month urging the legislature to adopt a budgetary mechanism to free up revenue that otherwise would have to be refunded under TABOR.

But our critique of TABOR doesn’t extend to questioning the right of voters to enact or defend it. The 5-year-old lawsuit arguing that TABOR violates the U.S. Constitution’s mandate that states have a “Republican Form of Government” is too strained and exotic for our taste. It deserved the setback it suffered last week in federal court.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that several Colorado lawmakers who are plaintiffs lacked legal standing to sue because they do not represent the General Assembly as a whole.

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

Jun 07

The Creation of a Colorado Charter School, Part Five

EDITORIAL: The Creation of a Colorado Charter School, Part Five – Pagosa Daily Post News Events & Video for Pagosa Springs Colorado

The Creation of a Colorado Charter School, Part Five

We might mention a couple of noteworthy laws created in the early 1990s, here in Colorado. One of those laws — the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, better known as TABOR — was approved by Colorado voters as an amendment to the state constitution, in 1992. TABOR’s language attempts to restrain the growth of state and local government in Colorado by limiting spending increases. In general terms, TABOR ties the rising cost of government to inflation and population growth; increases in tax revenues that exceed the TABOR-defined limits must be refunded to the taxpayers.

A quick illustration. Between 1970 and 2000, the average value of a single family home in Colorado nearly tripled — when adjusted for inflation. (Source: U.S. Census. It more than tripled when inflation is included.) That meant that a government agency funded solely by property tax would be pulling in nearly three times as much revenue (adjusted for inflation) in 2000 as they were in 1970 — unless that agency had reduced its mill levy. (I’ve never heard of a government entity in Colorado voluntarily reducing its mill levy.)

This hypothetical government entity was not required to actually provide better service in exchange for this ‘natural’ increase in tax revenues. The extra money just flowed in, without anyone necessarily doing anything differently.

TABOR attempts to control this type of taxation growth. Colorado voters, meanwhile, can choose to increase their taxes voluntarily, to fund new local or state programs, whenever they get the urge — and in fact, that happens on a fairly regular basis. (Maybe not so often in Archuleta County.)

One of the government systems that’s funded largely by property taxes — and which might have seen its tax funding nearly triple between 1970 and 2000, had it not been for the passage of TABOR — is the state’s education system.

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

Jun 05

High Taxes Lack a Guarantee of Quality Services: See Detroit

Welcome to Detroit signIt’s about how resources are managed

By JAMES M. HOHMAN | May 18, 2016

It is a common trope in Michigan and elsewhere that the path to state prosperity is to have high taxes and quality services, with Minnesota pointed to as the paragon. Yet high taxes do not guarantee quality services, as Detroit can attest.

Detroit has the highest effective property taxes in the country, according to the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence’s 2014 property tax study. For commercial property at all different values, Detroit is No. 1 in the nation. For homesteaded property, only Bridgeport, Connecticut surpasses Detroit. Detroit also has the highest property taxes for most values of industrial property. Only New York City has higher property taxes on apartments than Detroit. All of these rates are higher than those in Minneapolis. The one saving grace for property taxpayers in Detroit is that the net tax burden has decreased with the collapse in real estate values in the city. Continue reading

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 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.

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May 13

Call a special session

Call a special session | GJSentinel.com

Call a special session

One of the bigger disappointments of the current legislative session, which ends today, is that Senate Republicans dodged taking any action on the contentious hospital provider fee.

The House passed two bills, 1420 and 1450, which would have converted the fee to an enterprise, thereby freeing up space under the revenue cap set by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Getting the fee out from under TABOR would have allowed $750 million to be directed toward transportation and education and helped backfill some of the $362 million in severance taxes that lawmakers have used to cover spending gaps since 2006.

Senate leaders delayed introducing the bills until Tuesday, thus assuring they wouldn’t get the required number of readings needed to pass before the sessions ends.

Several Republicans broke ranks to support the House measures, so it would have been instructive to hear arguments in the Senate. In an election year, voters deserve to understand the rationale behind fiscal policy positions and who’s taking them.

Early on, some Republicans argued that converting the fee eliminated refunds to taxpayers. But budget negotiations removed that scenario from the equation. In a parallel universe, funding for roads and schools without a tax increase sounds like something the GOP would get behind.

“I don’t quite understand a lot of my fellow Republicans saying, ‘Oh, we have to preserve TABOR,’” John Suthers told The Colorado Independent last week. “The easiest way to preserve TABOR, and not increase taxes, is to remove the provider fee from the calculation. But obviously there’s a group in the Senate that feels differently.”

In 2009, Suthers, who was then Colorado’s Republican attorney general, urged lawmakers to make the new fee an enterprise. The current attorney general, Republican Cynthia Coffman, says converting it now is perfectly legal.

 

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