Prior to 2020 and the global economic and cultural upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado stood out for having strong economic growth and offering a desirable lifestyle. Coloradans had created the #1 state economy and enjoyed competitive advantages in attracting business growth and an educated workforce. In fact, in late 2019, US News World Report ranked Colorado’s business climate as one of the best in the nation.
However, after two periods of negative economic shocks in 2020, in both late spring and through the holidays, the state of business in Colorado remains under duress.
- There were 150,000 fewer jobs in Colorado in December 2020 relative to the start of the years, representing a 5.4% cut.[i] While the statewide reduction is significant, it masks the disproportionate impacts across industries, as the leisure and hospitality industry was down 90,900 jobs by end of 2020, whereas professional and business services was up 7,100 jobs.[ii]
- State taxable sales were down $8.9B, or -1.35%, in 2020 relative to 2019.[iii] Small business suffered, especially. As of February 10th, small business revenue was down 29.5% from January 2020 levels.[iv]
- Colorado’s unemployment rate increased by the 2nd-most among all states, from 2.5% to 8.5%. The Colorado state unemployment ranking went from near first (4th) to almost last (48th).[v]
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Every issue is an excuse to expand the size and scope of government and implement trillions in new taxes
If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
For Democrats today, the solution for every new issue is another tax increase. Name the “problem” and their “solution” is a higher tax on American families and businesses.
Every issue is an excuse to expand the size and scope of government and implement trillions in new taxes.
Even in the recent $1.9 trillion COVID “relief” spending spree legislation, Democrats put in a proviso that they believe will stop any tax reduction by Republican-led state governments for the next four years: If a state cuts taxes the Biden administration will threaten to sue to get their “bailout money” back.
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Now, on ly a little over two months later, those politicians are cooking up a new plan to create an end run around TABOR that would cost the state’s drivers millions.
The lack of respect for the people who elected them is breathtaking.
Proposals for what supporters are calling a “gas fee” — it’s an increase in the gas tax, don’t be fooled — would be a blatant violation of TABOR, and particularly insulting in light of the expansion of taxpayer protections approved in November and votes to reject two other road-funding proposals in 2018.
The message this sends to every Coloradan who voted to strengthen TABOR and to oppose the 2018 initiatives is that the politicians in Denver don’t seem to care what you say, no matter how often you say it. So we’ll just have to say it again, even louder.for what supporters are calling a “gas fee” — it’s an increase in the gas tax, don’t be fooled — would be a blatant violation of TABOR, and particularly insulting in light of the expansion of taxpayer protections approved in November and votes to reject two other road-funding proposals in 2018.
If the message sent by politicians is “we don’t care what you think,” our message to them has been and continues to be, “stop wasting our money, set priorities, and make better use of the money we are already sending you.”
This new fee — whose cost has yet to be determined — would be in addition to the state’s 22-cents per gallon gas tax (which is in addition to the federal 18.4 cents per gallon tax).
Coalition Voices Opposition to Gas “Fee”
JAN 22, 2021 BY AFPAmericans for Prosperity-Colorado, Colorado Rising State Action, The Independence Institute, The Centennial Institute, and the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT) all oppose the proposed plan.
DENVER, Colo. – Within months of voters passing increased taxpayer protections with Proposition 117, legislators are signaling they plan to ignore the will of the voters with a proposal to add “fees” on gasoline purchases. A coalition including Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, Colorado Rising State Action, The Independence Institute, The Centennial Institute, and the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT) came out strongly against this proposal and called on legislators to respect the will of the voters.
Jesse Mallory, State Director, Americans for Prosperity-Colorado:
“The message politicians are sending to every Coloradan who voted to support TABOR, strengthen taxpayer protections, and oppose tax increases is they don’t care what you say, no matter how often you say it. Lawmakers must respect the will of the people and bring these proposals to a vote.”
Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising State Action:
“Voters have made it crystal clear that they want to vote on tax and fee increases. Any plan to add significant revenue should include asking voters.”
Jeff Hunt, Director of the Centennial Institute:
“Colorado has some of the worst roads and traffic congestion in the country. Improving our roads is a priority that must be addressed. But forcing hardworking Coloradans to pay for this with additional gas fees in the midst of a pandemic and a struggling economy is the wrong way to go. The Colorado legislature is asking the average Coloradans to pay more just to go to work, go to the grocery store, or pick up their kids from school. The Colorado legislature has the money to spend on improving roads and needs to reprioritize roads over liberal special projects.”
Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute:
“Raising the gas tax without a vote of the people by calling it a fee will definitely give Coloradans gas. If it’s a good idea, bring it to the people!”
On June 15, the Colorado State Legislature sent two measures to the November 2020 ballot.
One measure would amend the state constitution to require charitable organizations to have existed for three years before obtaining a charitable gaming license instead of the current constitutional requirement of five years. The amendment would allow charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage. Currently, the constitution requires those who operate charitable gaming activities to be a member of the organization working as an unpaid volunteer.
The other measure would increase cigarette taxes and create a new tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes. It would dedicate revenues to various health and education programs. The measure requires voter approval under TABOR since it would increase state revenue.
TABOR and COVID 19: We’re all gonna pay
Blog post by Christine Burtt
5/26/2020 – 4 minute read
Let’s face it. You can’t shut down the economy, borrow trillions of dollars to subsidize households and businesses, and cause massive unemployment in the private sector without getting seriously upside down in tax revenues.
The Colorado state budget will be about $3.3B in the hole for FY2021, and that doesn’t include deficits in county and special district budgets.
If Legislatures over the years had honored the requirement of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to stash away an emergency fund, we’d have roughly $1B in cash right now. Instead of a lockbox of cash, illiquid government buildings were determined to be assets counted toward the emergency fund. Anybody have cash to buy a government building? But I digress….
In the Democrat-controlled Colorado Legislature, raising taxes is the easy answer to a budget shortfall. The short-term exercise is to reconcile what is “essential” vs “nice to have.”
In reality, government mandated services like administering food stamps, running elections, law enforcement, infrastructure, and paying public employee retirement benefits will be protected. But other programs funded for ideological wish-lists may be delayed – until they can raise taxes.
The most likely ways to raise taxes include: Continue reading
TABOR repeal is off the table for 2020. Now it’s Initiative 271, a $2 billion tax hike targeting the wealthy
Vision 2020 Colorado, a coalition behind a tax system overhaul, tells The Sun it will move forward with a graduated income tax measure that will lower taxes for the vast majority
coalition pushing to overhaul Colorado’s tax system will not pursue a complete repeal of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights this year, opting instead for a ballot measure in November that would generate billions in new money with higher taxes on the wealthy.
The new initiative — which is expected to receive final legal approval Wednesday — is designed to create a more equitable tax system in Colorado by lowering the current 4.63% tax rate for households making less than $250,000 a year.
An estimated 95% of taxpayers who are below the threshold would qualify for the tax cut, which would take effect for 2021. For those who make more than $250,000, the additional earnings are taxed at a higher rate up to the maximum of 8.9% for annual taxable income over $1 million.
The organizations behind the ballot question, known collectively as Vision 2020 Colorado, expect the new graduated income tax to generate an estimated $2 billion a year in new money with at least half earmarked to increase teacher salaries and retention. The remainder would be spent at the discretion of state lawmakers.
“We know middle-income Coloradans are paying a greater share of the tax burden than the wealthy 5%, but our tax code isn’t just unfair, it’s inadequate,” said Scott Wasserman, president of the Bell Policy Center, a leading proponent of the measure. The tough decisions made by state lawmakers about how to spend the $30 billion annual budget, he added, are “a purely consequence of our state not having enough money.”